|National federation||Federazione Italiana|
Sport del Ghiaccio
|IIHF since||January 24, 1924|
|Top league||Serie A|
|Current champion||HC Asiago|
Italy is a country in south-central Europe. Rome is the capital and largest city.
|Serie A||1924||-||Top-level national competition|
|Serie B||1935||-||Second-level national competition|
|Serie C||1966||-||Third-level national competition|
|Serie D||2011||-||Fourth-level national competition|
|CCM Cup||1994||-||South Tyrolean regional competition|
|Coppa Italia||1973||-||National cup competition|
|Supercoppa Italiana||2001||-||Competition between League/Cup winner|
|Italian junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
|Women's Serie A||1990||-||Top-level women's competition|
History of hockey in Italy
The first articles on bandy were published in Italy in 1903. The Circolo Pattinatori Valentino Torino skating club formed a hockey section 1908. The club faced SC Lyon II of France that February, losing 4-0. Hockey slowly gained popularity in Italy, especially in the northern regions where there was plentiful outdoor ice available at winter resorts. The talented French-Italian hockey player and speed-skater, Léonhard Quaglia, was instrumental promoting the game in the resort areas during the 1920s, but the father of the sport in Italy is considered to be Frank Roncarelli.
Italy's first ice hockey association was founded in 1924, and the country joined the IIHF on January 24 of the same year. The Federazione Italiana Sport del Ghiaccio was founded in 1925 and the ice hockey association was given a division within it in 1926. Between 1946 and 1952 there were independent ice hockey (Federazione Italiana Hockey su Ghiaccio) and skating (Federazione Italiana Pattinaggio) associations. They then merged back into a single organization.
The sport only really took off after the opening of the country's first indoor arena, the Palazzo del Ghiaccio, on December 28, 1923. Clubs soon sprung up and the first national competition, known as the Cinzano Cup, was staged in 1925. It was decided that the cup winner would be declared Italian national champions in 1927, and this was applied retroactively to the first two competitions staged.
The competition, which later became the Serie A, was dominated at the outset by the Milan clubs (in particular HC Milano and HC Diavoli Rossoneri Milano), and before 1957, SG Cortina's 1932 title was the only time a team from outside the city claimed the championship. In 1936, following the advent of the fascist regime and international sanctions after the country's invasion of Ethiopia, ll foreign words were Italianized, so HC Milano became known as Associazione Disco su Ghiaccio Milano (ADG Milano), while SG Cortina was renamed Associazione Sportiva Ghiaccio (ASG).
Restrictions on foreign players were eased in 1938 as the aim of the federation was to "publicize ice hockey and train young people in preparation for the 1940 Winter Olympics" (which were never held due to WWII). No championships were arranged between 1941 and 1946, owing to the war. Since World War II there has generally been a large constitution of Italian-Canadians playing in the league.
SG Cortina broke the hegemony of the Milan clubs, winning 14 titles between 1957 and 1975. By the 1970s, Italian-Canadians helped raise the level of hockey in the South Tyrolean part of Italy, and clubs such as HC Gherdëina, HC Bolzano, HC Merano enjoyed success. In the 1990s, largely driven by imports, the Serie A league was among the best in Europe. In recent times it has been dominated by the now-defunct Milano Vipers and HC Asiago. A second level league (the Serie B) has been contested since 1935 and the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) was first staged in 1973. The first junior (under 20) championship was held in 1962.
The men's national team made its international debut in 1924, finishing in fifth place in the European Championships. They also participated in the European Championships in 1929 and 1932. Italy played in the inaugural 1930 World Championships, finishing tied for 10th place. the 1934 World Championship was played at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio in Milan.
After a 12-year-absence, Italy returned to the international scene in 1951, playing in the B Pool. They spent the next 40 years mostly at this level, but played in the Top Division annually from 1992-2002. Italy's best finish at the World Championships was sixth place in 1994. They have participated in the Olympic Games nine times, recording a seventh place finish in 1956. Italy hosted the Olympics and thus the hockey tournament in 1956 (Cortina d'Ampezzo) and 2006 (Turin). As with the national league, the national team has long had a large composition of Italian-Canadian players.
Some of the best Italian players over the years have been: Rick Bragnalo, Thomas Brandl, Mario Chitarroni, Jim Corsi, David Delfino, Adolf Insam, Erwin Kostner, Bob Manno, Giovanni Marchetti, Robert Oberrauch, Gaetano Orlando, Gino Pasqualotto, Martin Pavlu, Lucio Topatigh, Bruno Zarrillo, and Michael de Angelis. Enrico Calcaterra, Guido Botturi, Decio Trovati, Mario Zucchini, and Ignazio Dionisi are among the forgotten stars from the pre-war era.
The women's national team played its first friendly match in 1993, but didn't appear at the IIHF World Women's Championships until 1999. They have played exclusively in the lower divisions. The women's team's lone appearance at the Olympics was in 2006 (hosted by Italy), where they finished in eighth place. The Women's U18 national team has played in the IIHF World Women's U18 Championships annually since 2012.