When it comes to winter sports, there are plenty that take place on ice. From curling to figure skating, the ice offers a chance to engage in battles of skill and athletic beauty. But for some sports fans, there’s nothing quite like the bruising battle that is ice hockey.

As two teams skate rapidly around the rink, they fight with sticks — and sometimes fists! — to get a little black object past the goalie into the back of the net. At times they skate so fast and shoot the puck with such force that’s it’s almost impossible to keep track of.

For those who have never watched an ice hockey game before, one of the first things they usually notice is that, unlike many sports, there’s no ball. If you think about it, so many other sports, from soccer and baseball to basketball and football, feature a ball. In fact, “ball” is part of the sport’s name in many cases.

In ice hockey, though, it’s all about the puck: that little round black object that flies with lightning speed around the ice. If you’re curious to know more about the hockey puck, you’ve come to the right place.

Hockey pucks are flat and round. Made of solid, vulcanized black rubber, they are three inches across and one inch thick. Each puck weighs about six ounces.

If you’ve ever seen a hockey puck up close, you’ve probably noticed that the edge of the puck has a bunch of bumps or grooves. Sometimes these slightly raised patterns have a diamond shape. A completely smooth puck would be hard to shoot, so the raised patterns give the hockey stick something to grip when a player shoots a puck.

The hockey puck came into existence in 1875. It’s unclear who actually invented it, but experts believe the first hockey puck was likely just a rubber ball sliced in half. Early hockey players needed an object with a flat side that would slide on the ice rather than bounce around.

Today, hockey pucks are only made in four countries: Canada, Russia, China and the Czech Republic. At large factories, rubber is mixed with a special bonding material and a type of coal dust called carbon black. The mixture is then poured into a mold and compressed.

About 5,000 pucks can be made in a typical week. After they’re molded, special team logos can be added to each side through a process called silk screening.

So how cool are hockey pucks? As a matter of fact, they’re extremely cool. Pucks are kept frozen, so that they slide on the slippery ice and don’t bounce around.

After the Zamboni® smoothes out the ice and the players lace up their ice skates, it’s off to the races, chasing the puck around the rink! How fast can a hockey puck travel on the ice? Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for hockey pucks to reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour or more!

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