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History and Rules of Dome and Air Hockey

History and Rules of Dome and Air Hockey

In North America and throughout much of Europe, hockey is a national pastime with a passionate following. The hallmark of this game is speed, which describes both the way in which the players move and how fast the puck can travel. Unfortunately, if you wanted to recreate the fun of playing hockey, you’d need sticks, a puck, pads, two large goals and 12 players.

That’s where dome and air hockey come in. You can easily play either in the comfort of your own home with just one other person.

The History of Dome Hockey

Dome hockey’s roots go back to around 1932. This is the first time players controlled rods to imitate the actual sport of ice hockey. However, it wasn’t until 1982 that the current version found prominence in arcades across the country.

The original creator of dome hockey was Innovative Concepts in Entertainment (ICE). Given the time period, it should come as no surprise that the original first two teams were the USA Olympic hockey team and that of Soviet Russia. In the wake of the USA’s victory, the company sold more than 5,000 tables during their first year. ICE is still in operation today with a headquarters in Clarence, New York.

Not a lot has changed with the way dome hockey is played since its inception. Other companies have started manufacturing the products, some with domes and some without, with a few alternations here and there. However, for the most part, the original design is still used.

Rules of Dome Hockey

The nice thing about dome hockey is that its rules are largely dominated by its actual structure. There simply isn’t a lot of room for interpretation. For example, each period lasts 90 seconds. This is tracked by a counter that comes with the game.

Speaking of which, you begin the game with a coin flip to decide who goes first. Each period begins with a puck drop, which, again, the game facilitates.

The closest thing to an interpretation of the rules that you’ll find with dome hockey is that you can’t lift or tilt the table. The only exception is if the puck gets stuck somewhere that won’t allow other players to reach it.

The History of Air Hockey

Another way to enjoy the fast pace and intensity of hockey without the ice and potential for injury is air hockey. Bob Lemieux, a passionate fan of the real thing, invented air hockey in 1972. With the help of a pool table company, Brunswick, air hockey quickly found a place in homes all over the country.

It found new heights of popularity in 1974 when Brunswick organized the first ever air hockey world tournament, which saw players from 31 regions all over the globe, each of whom had played in previous tournaments to earn their spot.

The tournament took place in New York City and awarded the winner $5,000 (second place took home $1,000). Derek “The Turk” Sanderson of NHL fame provided his celebrity to help build hype for the tournament and Marv Albert even did the play-by-play.

In the 80s, air hockey took off as arcades began using coin-operated versions. A legendary player, Mark Robbins, most likely saved the sport during this time period, though, as competition eventually spelled trouble for air hockey. He not only collected discarded tables from all over the country but also got U.S. Billiards and Dynamo Corp. to produce high-quality versions.

The Rules of Air Hockey

Much like dome hockey, the nice thing about air hockey is that its very structure also makes it very easy to follow the rules. Still, there is some room for deviation compared to the game we just covered.

For example, each player only has seven seconds with the puck before they must attempt a goal. No part of a player’s body can touch the puck. They also cannot use the bottom of the mallet to hit the puck.

The puck must fall into the goal for it to count. If only a portion of it is inside, it is not a goal. Again, though, the bottom of the mallet cannot be used to get the puck back out.

Once the puck has crossed the centerline into your portion of the table, the other player cannot touch it. However, if the puck is touching the line, it is fair game for either opponent.

After a goal is scored, the other player has 10 seconds to remove the puck and put it into play. The person who was scored upon always gets the puck.

Games are usually played up to seven, but players may agree to play to a different number. If players are going to play multiple games, they must switch sides after each one.

Whether you choose dome or air hockey, both are fun, convenient ways to enjoy the many facets of ice hockey that have made it so popular for all these years.


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