In the winter of 1891-1892 there was an indoor ice rink in downtown Kearney,
Nebraska. It was located on Central Avenue in a building which had formerly
been used for roller skating. A tank was set up and in early November was
filled with water 8” deep. The weather apparently was cold enough to freeze
the water solid over night.
The following January it was announced that
local skaters would divide into two teams, the Midways and the Phil Kearnys,
and play a game of ice polo.
Ice Polo? What is ice polo?
local newspaper said that “Polo is a game full of excitement from start to
finish and when played aright is as scientific a one as may be numbered
among strictly North American games.” It was also reported that there would
be additional music for the event. That meant a live band.
Ice polo was a game played in the 1890’s mainly in the east by Ivy League
colleges like Harvard and Brown. It appears to have been a polo game played
on ice with the players on skates rather than on a field with the players on
horseback. Thus the name – ice polo.
There were five men on each team. They used ice skates but no padding. Their
sticks were like hockey sticks but only 4 feet long. Instead of a puck, a
polo ball was hit across the ice. The objective was to hit the ball over a
bar which was no more than 18 inches off the ice. A goal was worth three
points. The game was played in two 20-minue halves.
The book Ice Hockey and Ice Polo Guide, published in 1898, contains
the following description of ice polo.
Ice Hockey and Ice Polo Guide, published in 1898