|National federation||Belarus Ice Hockey Federation|
|IIHF since||May 6, 1992|
|Top league||Belarusian Extraliga|
|Current champion||HC Shakhtyor Soligorsk|
Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe. Minsk is the capital and largest city. Belarus was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991.
|Belarusian Extraliga||1992||-||Top-tier national competition|
|Vysshaya Liga||2002||-||Second-tier national competition|
|Belarusian Cup||2002||-||National cup competition|
|Belarusian SSR Championship||1952||1991||Defunct Soviet-era competition|
|Belarusian junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
History of hockey in Belarus
Back when it was known as Wolkowysk and part of Polish territory, ice hockey was first played in the Belarusian city now known as Vawkavysk in 1932. Three teams (WTS Wolkowysk, Makabi Wolkowysk, and Przyszlosc) played games against one another. There was also a club named ZSS in the neighboring town of Swislocz (today Svislach).
Hockey was first played in the current capital of Minsk after World War II. In 1946, the country's most successful team, Torpedo Minsk (later Vympel and Dynamo Minsk, and now Tivali Minsk) was founded. The club initially played in the second-tier Klass B and first qualified for the top-level Soviet Championship League in 1951. During Soviet times there was also a "national" competition staged within the Belarusian SSR, the Belarusian SSR Championship.
The interest for hockey has always been pretty good in Minsk. The home stadium of Dynamo Minsk often drew a capacity crowd of 5000 to the games. One of the Minsk stars from the 1960s was Victor Yaroslavtsev who became a world champion with the Soviet National Team in 1967. He only played 15 games for the Soviets and scored 3 goals but he was a very important player on his club for years. Other good Belarusian players between the 1950s and the 1970s included: Sergei Babariko (goalie), S. Sitkovskij, J. Nikonov, Victor Shilov, S.Malkov, V. Loschinin and G. Tincenko.
The Belarusian Extraliga started play in the 1992-93 season. In the 2004-05 season, the league admitted teams from Latvia and Ukraine. By 2013-14, only Belarusian teams were left playing in the league. Yunost Minsk has won the most league titles, with six. Other successful clubs include HK Neman Grodno and Tivali Minsk The Belarusian Cup has been contested annually since 2002.
The Belarusian National Team first participated in the C-Pool Qualification tournament in 1992, in an attempt to qualify for the 1993 World Championships. They failed to qualify for the tournament due to having a lower goal quotient than Kazakhstan, with whom they were tied in the standings, and made their debut at the 1994 World Championship Pool C.
They enjoyed success shortly thereafter, and played in the A-Pool in 1998. Belarus participated at the 1998 Olympics, finishing in 7th place. Four years later in Salt Lake City, they took fourth place at the tournament, losing to Russia 7-2 in the bronze medal game. Their 4-3 win over Sweden in the quarterfinals was a monumental upset, if not fluky, as Vladimir Korpat scored the winning goal from center ice with 2:22 remaining. Belarus failed to qualify for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, but qualified for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, in which they finished in ninth place.
The junior national team made its debut at the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1993. They first qualified for the A-Pool in 1999. The team has made 20 appearances at the world juniors, with their best finish being ninth in 2001 and 2002.
Some of the best Belarusian players over the years have been: Andrei Mezin, Andrei Skabelka, Andrei Andrievski, Ruslan Salei, Oleg Khmyl, Sergei Fedotov, Andrei Prima, Mikhail Grabovsky, Konstantin Koltsov, Vladmir Tsyplakov and Igor Matoushkin, many of whom having gone on to play in the National Hockey League.
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on this country.