|National federation||Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation|
|IIHF since||January 24, 1927|
|Top league||OB I bajnokság|
|Current champion||Miskolci JJSE|
Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Budapest is the capital and largest city.
|OB I bajnokság||1936||-||Top-level national competition|
|Hungarian Cup||1965||-||National cup competition|
|MOL Liga||2008||-||International comp. involving Hungarian teams|
|OB I/B. bajnokság||-||Second-level national competition|
|OB III. bajnokság||-||Third-level national competition|
|Magyar Amatõr Jégkorong Liga||Amateur competition|
|Nezmeti Amator Jegkorong Bajnoksag||Amateur competition|
|Hungarian Supercup||1996||2008||Defunct cup competition|
|Hungarian junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
|Hungarian Women's Hockey League||1994||-||National women's competition|
History of hockey in Hungary
For a detailed overview of hockey in Hungary prior to 1937, please see the article on Early Hungarian Hockey.
The first bandy team in Hungary was formed in 1899 when Budapesti Korcsolyázó Egylet (BKE) added the sport to is program. BKE Budapest was victorious at international bandy tournaments held in Prague and St. Moritz in 1914, and was regarded as the top bandy team in Europe as a result. An Englishman by the name of John Dunlop introduced hockey to Hungary in 1924. The first artificial ice rink was opened in Budapest in 1926.
The Hungarian Winter Sports Federation was founded in 1908, and bandy was given a division within it. Hungary became an IIHF member on January 24, 1927. On November 6, 1942, an independent Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation was founded.
The national championship was first contested in 1937. Ferencvárosi TC has won the most league titles, with 25. Another successful club is the Ujpesti Dózsa Sport-Club, which won 13 championships between 1958 and 1988. After the communist regime ended in 1989, the club reverted back to its original name, Ujpesti Torna Egylet. All the Budapest teams played at the Millenáris rink until 1963. After that the Ujpesti team played at the Mégyeriút rink.
It wasn't unusual to have several thousand people jam the arenas for league matches in the 1930s and 1940s. Prior to 1940, some games were played among teams in the Hungarian countryside, but the national championship was only contested by clubs from Budapest. This changed when a "Provincial" (Country) division was introduced for the 1939-40 season. Some cities where hockey had spread to included Hatvan, Szeged, Debrecen, Gyor, Szombathely, and Esztergom.
The cities of Uzhhorod (Ungvar), Kosice (Kassai), Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely), Miercurea Ciuc (Csikszereda), Cluj (Kolozsvar), and several other Transylvanian towns came under Hungarian occupation due to World War II. Teams from these locals entered the Hungarian Championship between 1940 and 1944. The first-ever second division championship was staged in 1942. The participants were: BKE II, FTC II, Weisz Manfred TK (Csepel), MAC, and BEAC. It was not completed due to thaw.
The 1943-44 championship was affected by the war as some games had to be ended due to the mandatory evening curfew imposed at the time. The Budapest rink (City Park) was badly damaged after the war, and no hockey was played in Hungary in 1944-45. The rink was repaired sufficiently so that the championship could be re-started for 1945-46.
The Budapest teams continued their hegemony, and it wasn't until 1981 that a non-Budapest team won the championship. - Alba Volán Székesfehérvár. Székesfehérvár was also the first city outside Budapest to get artificial ice (1973). The first covered arena wasn't built until 1983 in Budapest (Budapest Sportscarnok). Both the 1983 and 1990 C-Pool World Championships were held there.
During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the league was dominated by two teams: Ujpesti Dózsa SC and Ferencvárosi TC. The first time foreigners were allowed to play in the league was during the 1988-89 season. Four Polish players were the first. Forwards Tadeusz Radwan (34 years old), Krystian Woznica (35), Marek Bialik (34) and goalie Jacek Lato (29). The following season (1989-90) the amount of foreign players had increased to 18. 15 were Russians and three were Czechs. Among the Russian players were former national team players Mikhail Vasiliev (27 years old), Oleg Petrov (26), Sergei Svetlov (30) and Vladimir Repnev (40).
Jászberényi Lehel SE won the championship thanks to their five Russian players, Alexander Kulikov, Alexander Vlasov and Boris Pusjkarev who finished 1-2-3 in the scoring charts. Anatolij Donika who was voted as the best foreign player and Oleg Vasujnin was another key kog. These guys were the backbone for Lehel until 1992.The three Czechs played for Ujpesti Dózsa and included Milos Tarant (represented Czechoslovakia 2 times) and Jindrich Kokrment (represented Czechoslovakia 73 times). For the next couple of years there was an invasion of foreign imports. Canadian Joe Simon played for Ferencváros and won the scoring title in both 1991 and 1992. During the 1991-92 season there were 35 foreign players. 18 from Romania, 10 from Russia, six from Czechoslovakia and one from Canada (Simon).
In 1992-93 Lehel got new Russians and they all finished 1-2-3 in scoring (Anatolij Vodopjanov, Andrei Vorobiev and Alexander Selikov). The foreign invasion continued during the 1993-94 season, when 28 imports played. One of the Russians (Sergei Oreskin), scored the winning goals in the finals both in 1992 (sudden death) and 1995 for his Ferencváros team.
The number of foreigners decreased after the mid-1990s due to an influx of young Hungarian talent. Since 1997 Alba Volán Székesfehérvár and Dunaferr SE have been the top teams in the championship. The league proper has not been contested since the 2011-12 season. Since then, the MOL Liga has served as the Hungarian Championship, with the top Hungarian team in the league being recognized as national champions. The OB I bajnokság operates as the second-level national competition. The Hungarian Cup was first contested in 1965. There has been a junior championship held since 1954 and a midget one since 1961.
The men's national team made its international debut in 1927, playing in the 1927 European Championship. Budapest hosted the 1929 European Championship and Hungary played in the inaugural 1930 World Championship, finishing in sixth place. Their best finish at the World Championships was fifth place in 1937. Led by goaltender István Hircsák and talented forwards Sándor Miklós and Béla Haray, the 1930s were the "golden era" for the national team.
World War II slowed down the development of Hungarian ice hockey and they were unable to reach the same level of play as in the 1920s and 1930s. The Czech Vladimir Kominek coached Hungary between 1959-1964 and helped them develop a lot under his guidance. The following year (1965) the Hungarians managed to finish 4th in the WC B-Pool, which was their best result after WWII. During the 1970s Hungary played in the B and C-Pools. In November 1979 eight players were caught smuggling illegal items from France to Hungary. All eight were charged for smuggling and three players were banned for life: Adám Kereszty, Gábor Buzás and Péter Schilling. The blow was especially hard since Kereszty was Hungary's best player at that time and a winner of the league scoring championship. These bans were however lifted after a short time and they all played again. Other top players during the 1980s included Tibor Kiss and Gaspar Meyhart.
János Ancsin, the "Wayne Gretzky" of Hungarian hockey, was the best player in the country and a key cog on the national team for much of the 1980s and 1990s - a time period that Hungary spent mostly in the C Pool. Toward the end of the decade, Gábor Ocskay, had taken over the "superstar" role from János Ancsin. He was instrumental in Hungary earning promotion to the B Pool in 2000 and the country's return to the Top Division of the World Championships for the first time since 1939 in 2009. Ocskay, who had previously been diagnosed with a heart condition, tragically died of a heart attack several weeks prior to the 2009 IIHF World Championship. After the shocking news of his death, both his club (Alba Volán Székesfehérvár) and the Hungarian Federation decided to retire his famous #19 jersey. On the day of his funeral, the Székesfehérvár ice rink was renamed in his honor.
Some other top players on the national team in recent times include the goalie Levente Szuper (who has been "super" in net on many occasions), the Vas brothers (Janos and Martin), Imre Peterdi, Balazs Ladanyi, Andras Horvath, and Krisztian Palkovics. After finishing second in the 2015 IIHF World Championship Division I, Hungary returned to the Top Division in 2016.
The women's national team played its first game in 1997, a friendly against Great Britain, which they lost 8-0. They participated in the Women's World Championship Group B Qualification tournament in 1999 and debuted at the IIHF World Women's Championships in 2000. In 2013, Hungary finished first in Division IIA and earned promotion to Division IB. The women's U18 national team made its debut at the IIHF World Women's U18 Championships in 2012. They won the Division I tournament, and were promoted to the top division for 2013.
The junior national team first participated in the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1980, finishing in eighth and last place in Pool B. Their best finish at the world juniors was fourth in Pool B in 1996.
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on this country.