In what is recognized as the first ever international hockey game in history by the International Ice Hockey Federation, Belgium faced off against France at the Pôle Nord rink in central Brussels on March 4, 1905, to capture the first ever unofficial International Hockey Lineal Championship in a 3-0 victory.
The game, contended by the Fédération des Patineurs de Belgique (FPB) representing Belgium, and the Club des Patineurs de Paris (CPP) representing France, was highlighted by a three-goal performance (predating the “hat trick” name by 40 years) from captain Ernest Renard for the 3-0 victory. Belgium would win the second game of the doubleheader the following day in a 4-2 win, with Renard scoring all four goals for Belgium, while Belgian forward Édouard Malaret, who left FPB to play in Paris, scored both of France’s goals in the loss.
While the game of ice hockey is recognized as being officially played for the first time in March 1875 in Montréal, Canada, the game did not come to Europe until 1897, when Canadian players introduced the game in France and Great Britain. The popularity of the game increased largely due to the presence of Canadian university students or servicemen in Europe, and the game was popularizing in Western Europe leading up to the first international in 1905. Three years after these meetings in Brussels, the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG), the predecessor of the IIHF, was founded in Paris, with Belgium, Bohemia (modern-day Czechia), France, Great Britain and Switzerland as founding members. The first official tournament under the LIHG was the 1910 European Championships, won by Great Britain, with the first international tournament coming at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.
With the victory in the first ever recognized international ice hockey game in history, Belgium wins the inaugural International Hockey Lineal Championship, winning again the following day 4-2 to retain the title, and hold on to the IHLC for just over one year, losing it in their first post-series defence, a 20-1 drubbing to a drastically improved French squad in Brussels on March 17, 1906. Belgium would only hold the IHLC once more, in February 1909, but the win sparked a 100+ year legacy of international hockey that has now spread across the globe, with the title changing hands over 400+ times in hundreds of games in nations across the world.