The goaltender (also known colloquially as goalie or netminder) in ice hockey is the player who defends his team's goal net by stopping shots of the puck from entering his team's net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goalie usually plays in or near the area in front of the net called the goal crease (often referred to simply as the crease). Due to the power and frequency of shots, the goaltender wears special equipment designed to protect the body from direct impact. Only one goalie is allowed to be on the ice for each team at any one time.-------------------Ice hockey, often referred to simply as hockey in Canada and the United States, is a team sport played on ice. It is a speedy and physical sport. Ice hockey is most popular in areas that are sufficiently cold for natural, reliable seasonal ice cover, though with the advent of indoor artificial ice rinks it has become a year-round pastime at the amateur level in major metropolitan areas such as cities that host an NHL or other professional-league team. It is one of the four major North American professional sports, and is represented by the National Hockey League (NHL) at the highest level, and the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), the highest level of women's ice hockey in the world. It is the official national winter sport of Canada, where the game enjoys immense popularity, and is also the most popular spectator sport in Finland. Only six of the thirty NHL franchises are based in Canada, but Canadian players outnumber Americans in the league by a ratio of almost four to one. About thirty percent of the league's players are non-North American.-----------------The sport's popularity in the U.S. is concentrated in certain regions, notably the Northeast, the Midwest, and Alaska. This concentration helps to make ice hockey the least watched major sport in the United States, though it is by far the most watched sport in Canada. Nonetheless, in certain major U.S. cities it commands popularity levels similar to and occasionally exceeding basketball for winter sports fans.-------------------While there are 64 total members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States have finished in most of the coveted 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at IIHF World Championships. Of the 63 medals awarded in men's competition at the level from 1920 on, only six did not go to the one of those countries, or a former entity thereof, such as Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union. Only one of those six medals was above bronze. Those seven nations have also captured 162 of 177 medals awarded at 59 non- IIHF World Championships, and all medals since 1954. Likewise, all nine and 27 IIHF World Women Championships medals have gone to one of those seven countries. Also deserving of mention is Switzerland, which has won two men's bronze medals at the and finished third at least seven times at the World Championships. Switzerland also maintains one of the oldest and top-rated ice hockey leagues (the Swiss Nationalliga) outside of the NHL.