|National federation||Chinese Ice Hockey Association|
|IIHF since||July 25, 1963|
|Top league||China National Championship|
China is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populated country. Beijing is the capital, and Shanghai is the largest city.
|China National Championship||1953||-||Top-level national competition|
History of hockey in China
An English missionary stationed in China by the name of Arthur Evans Moule, noted that an ice hockey game was played the British around the Ningpo area of China in the winter of 1862. This was during the Taiping Rebellion.
Here is the quote from Half a Century in China: Recollections and Observations: "The weather was intensely cold, the thermometer standing at only thirteen degrees above zero in my room, with a fire burning all night. The severity of the winter kept the T'aip'ings quiet for a time, but they observed the 20th of January, Hung Siu-ts'iian's birthday, with great noise and display. The weather could not numb English energy, for we played hockey on the ice which covered the broad moat near the north gate."
Ice hockey games were again played by expats in 1899. The first Chinese players took up the game in Shenyang in 1915. Despite these early developments, the first real games weren't really played until a tournament was organized at the 1935 Chinese Winter Spartakide, held in Beijing.
The sport further took off in February 1953 when a tournament was arranged in Harbin. The participating teams came from the Northeastern, Northern and Northwestern regions. The China National Championship has been played since 1955. During this time Czechoslovakian trainers were invited to China for seminars and educational programs.
Five teams participated in the inaugural national championship. The number of teams quickly increased to 15. When the fourth championship was held in Jilin in 1958, there were 22 teams battling it out for the title. During the 1970s the dominant teams were Harbin and Qiqihar. Their hegemony of the championship has continued and the title has flip-flopped between the two teams many times over the years.
A lot of foreign coaches have spent time in China, most of them Czechs and Russians. The most famous was probably Slavomir Lener who spent time as an assistant coach in the NH:. He was a coach in China during the mid-1980.
In 1993 foreign players were allowed to play in the Chinese league for the first time. A couple of Russians were imported to raise the quality level of the league. They played for Huluenbeiermeng and Jiamusi A.
A winter tournament has also been held in China from time to time. In 1983 it was played for the fifth time. 15 teams and 600 players participated in that tournament. The teams came from Hebei, Mongolia, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Xinjiang among others. One Chinese team, China Dragon, participates in the multi-national Asia League, which also has teams from Japan, Russia and South Korea. China has had a team participating in the Asia League since the 2004-05 season.
The Dragon are infamous for having gone four whole seasons without a victory (2010-11 to 2013-14) in the Asia League. This is a good example of how far behind China is in the quality of their hockey, when compared to some fellow Asian countries.
The Chinese National Team's first international games were played between March 7-13, 1956 in Wroclaw (Poland). :ater in 1956 the Czech team VZKG Ostrava toured China for five exhibition games against teams from Beijing, Changchun and Harbin. Although the Chinese lost all five games they gathered some invaluable experience.
In January 1957 the Japanese national team came to China and also played five games against Chinese teams, once again the Chinese lost all five games but learned a lot. In February 1957 the Chinese junior team visited Poland and the Soviet Union to improve their technical skills. In 1960 a team from Harbin only lost 3-0 to the East German national team. It was a very good result for the Chinese considering the fact that the East Germans finished 5th in the Pool-A World Championship the following year.
The next proof of how much the Chinese hockey had improved came in February 1966 when they invited a Polish team combination that featured a couple of players from the national team. China won six out of the seven games with the seventh game ending in a tie.
Between 1966 and 1970 there was a temporary pause in Chinese ice hockey. During these four years they lost a lot of ground to the rest of the hockey world. During the summer of 1970 the first indoor arena with artificial ice was built in Beijing (capacity 18,000) which gave hockey a little bit of a resurrection.
At the end of 1971 Romania's national team visited China where they both trained with and played against Chinese teams. At the start of 1972 the Chinese national team went to Romania and Sweden to sharpen their technical skills. This was their final preparation for a debut on the international ice hockey scene.
China made its international debut that same year (1972) in the C-Pool World Championship in Miercurea Ciuc (Romania). They finished fifth after winning two of their games - over the Netherlands 11-4 and Denmark 6-1. They also won the Fairplay-Cup.
During December 1973 British Columbia University visited China and played two games against the Chinese national team. BCU won both of the games (5-0 and 7-0), but BCU's coach Bob Hindmarch was impressed by China's fine skating and thought that they had improved considerably the last couple of years.
For the rest of the 1970's and 1980s China played almost exclusively in the C-Pool. Only three times did they manage to play in the B-Pool. Their best finish came in 1982, when they finished in 7th place in the B-Pool (played in Klagenfurt, Austria). The year before China were the hosts for the 1981 C-Pool WC played in Beijing. A lot of people were interested in the sport and over 18,000 jammed the arena to see their heroes play. They finished second and advanced to the B-Pool. China won gold at the Asian Winter Games in 1986 and 1990.
Since the 1990s, China has primarily been a part of the C-Pool/Division II. They had a three year stint in the B-Pool from 1992-1994 and also spent four seasons in Division I (formerly the B-Pool) during the early 2000s.
Some of the best players in Chinese hockey history include: Xiaofang Guan, Xiabo Guan, Zhan-Yong Wang, Xiguang Chen, Chunjiang Wang, Jingang Wang, Naifeng Yao, Yu- Ke Yang, Ke-Chiang Wu, Anfu Wang, Benyu Wang, Yu-Jie Tian, Zhi-Qiang Zhang, and the goaltender, Geng Hua.
The women's national team has enjoyed greater success at the IIHF World Women's Championships, regularly participating in the top division until being relegated to Division I in 2009. They finished in fourth place in 1994 and 1997 after losing the bronze medal game to Finland both years. The women participated in the Olympics in 1998, 2002, and 2010, with their best finish being fourth place in 1998. They won gold at the Asian Winter Games in 1996 and 1999, and at the IIHF Women's Challenge Cup of Asia in 2010.
The men's national junior team first participated at the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1986, playing in Group C. After their first appearance, they did not return to the international scene again until 2004. The U18 team won the gold medal at the 1988 IIHF Asian Oceanic Junior U18 Championship.
- Gidén, Carl; Houda, Patrick; Martel, Jean-Patrice (2014). On the Origin of Hockey.
- China - IIHF.com
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on this country.