Until 1928, the Olympic ice hockey tournament had been the only global competition for hockey teams, but in 1930 the first World Championships were held. In Olympic years, however, the Games would double as the World Championships, a practice that would continue until 1968.
Two rinks were used for the Olympic hockey matches in Lake Placid. Apart from one rink in the center of the Olympic Stadium, which also hosted the speed skating, several matches were held in the Olympic Arena, marking the first indoor ice hockey matches since 1920. The number of players on the roster had been increased to 14 since 1928, although only 10 could take the bench on any given match. Apart from the official matches, several exhibition matches were played. These also featured two non-national teams: McGill University (Canada) and Lake Placid AC (United States).
In the main ice hockey tournament there were only four entered teams (USA, Poland, Germany, Canada), so a double round-robin was played. This still produced only 12 games, so the organizing committee gave permission for a series of exhibition games to be played, with the four national teams competing against teams from McGill University (Montréal, Québec, Canada), and the Lake Placid Athletic Club. McGill and Lake Placid each played two scheduled games against the four teams, and then Lake Placid AC faced a team made up players from both the Canadian and American Olympic teams. Both exhibition teams proved powerful, with McGill defeating both the Canadian Olympic Team (2-0) and the USA Olympic Team (2-1), and Lake Placid crushing Germany 6-0, and Poland 6-2. Lake Placid then played a close match against the Canada-USA team, losing 3-2.