Roller Polo and Ice Polo started in the early 1880s. Roller Skating was a very popular sport throughout the world in the 1870s and 1880s, and Ice Skating was also very popular in the Northern Regions throughout the World. The Polo Players from both Ice & Roller Polo were the 1st to use a actual net that stopped the balls after being shot into the net. The nets also prevented any passes from behind the net being made through the goal area. These Nets were known as Cages.
These photos from 1890-91 shows The Storrs Agricultural School Ice Polo team in about 1891 with a Wooden Cage and Fishnet they use as a Net while playing on Duck Pond (Swan Lake), along with the Ball they play with, equipment such as Sticks, Skates, Pads & Jerseys. Photos Courtesy of University of Connecticut
Frank S. Stocking of Quebec, Canada did make the 1st Steel Cage in 1897 .
The Quebec Hockey Club were also adopting the "Net of Quebec" and "Net of Montreal in the late 1890s. The Southern Ontario Hockey League adopted the "Ontario Nets" also late 1890s