|Population||7,120,666 (excluding Kosovo)|
|National federation||Serbian Ice Hockey Association|
|IIHF since||January 1, 1939 (Yugoslavia)|
|Top league||Serbian Hockey League|
|Current champion||HK Partizan|
Serbia is a country in Southeast Europe. Belgrade is the capital and largest city. Serbia was a part of Yugoslavia until 1991, and was part of a union with Montenegro (FR Yugoslavia and later Serbia and Montenegro) until 2006.
- Yugoslav National Team
- Yugoslav National Junior Team
- Serbian-Montenegrin National Team
- Serbian-Montenegrin Junior National Team
- Serbian National Team
- Serbian Junior National Team
|Yugoslav Ice Hockey League||1936||1991||Yugoslav-era competition|
|Yugoslav 2nd League||?||?||Second-level Yugoslav-era competition|
|Serbian Hockey League||1991||-||Top-level national competition|
|Serbian Junior Competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
History of hockey in Serbia
Ice hockey first came to Serbia in 1903, after equipment needed to play the game was imported from Sweden. The Kingdom of Serbia joined the IIHF (LIHG) in 1911 at the association congress held in Berlin. Their membership was later revoked.
The Yugoslav Ice Hockey Federation was founded in 1930, and it joined the IIHF on January 1, 1939. The IIHF recognizes Serbia as the successor to Yugoslavia, so its membership was transferred to the country. The current governing body, the Serbian Ice Hockey Association, was previously known as the Ice Hockey Federation of Serbia and Montenegro.
In 1936, the Belgrade Tennis Klub created an ice sheet on their tennis court at Tasmajdan Park. It was the first ice rink in Belgrade. The following year, Bob Klub Belgrade created a skating rink at the Kalemegdan Park. At this time, the skating season in the capital lasted between 18 and 25 days, and members of the BTK and BKB played hockey exhibition games against one another. The BTK transformed six tennis courts into a rink featuring international dimensions in 1938. The first two official hockey games were played in Belgrade on January 8 and 9. BKE Budapest defeated SK Ilrija Ljubljana 8-1 and 3-1.
The Yugoslav Ice Hockey League was first contested in 1939 (SK Ilrija had been default winners the previous two years), and SK Palić became the first Serbian team to participate in the championship a year later. In 1940, Serbia organized the first hockey tournaments per international rules. It was a continuation of the tradition started (first through friendly matches) in the winter of 1938-1939, and then in the winter of 1939-1940, a series of tournaments were played.
On February 4, 1940, the Serbian Skating Union was founded, and of the first six hockey clubs (which also participated in the aforementioned tournaments) that joined, two were from Belgrade (Belgrade Tennis Klub and Belgrade Bob Klub) and Palic (SK Palic and Tennis Klub Palic), and one each in Novi Sad (Tennis Klub Novi Sad) and Becej (Sportsko društvo Slavija).
World War II interrupted hockey activities throughout Yugoslavia. After it ended, the championship was restarted in 1947 and HK Partizan won six league titles between 1948 and 1954. After this point, the league would mostly be dominated by Slovenian and to a lesser extent Croatian teams, and it was over 30 yeas until Partizan's next tile (1986).
The newly-built Tasjmadan Sports Centre hosted its first hockey competition on December 22 and 23, 1953, and the stadium was officially and formally opened on January 24, 1954. It hosted the Yugoslav Championship in 1954, 1955 and 1957 and ice hockey was played during the winter months at the open-air stadium between 1953 and 1977. Among others, the Partizan, Red Star, OHK Beograd, Tasmajdan and Avala clubs played at the arena.
On December 25, 1969, a winter sports stadium in Subotica known as the Stadion malih sportova Subotice was opened. Thus, HK Spartak Subotica finally received an artificial ice rink after more than three decades of playing on natural ice of Lake Palic. The stadium had a capacity of 4,000 spectators when it opened. An artificial rink later opened in Novi Sad in 1972 and the first official match was played at the facility on December 18, with HK Vardar Skopje defeating HK Vojvodina 8-5.
In 1978, Spartak Subotica defeated HK Skopje by a record score of 45:0 in a Yugoslav 2nd League Eastern Group match. The first indoor ice arena, the Hala Pionir, in Belgrade officially opened on March 12, 1978. It hosted many important events. The Belgrade clubs Partizan, Red Star and Tas all called the arena home, while at the international level it hosted the 1978 World Championship B Pool tournament.
The 1980s were a renaissance in Serbian hockey. In 1983, Serbian junior team defeated the Croatians 9-3, 12-3, and 16-1 and tied them 5-5. Some prominent Serbian players during this decade were: Zoran Kožić, Aleksandar Grof, Igor Poluga, Andrej Jovanović, Vanja Čečen, Kolja Lazarević, and Igor Kosović. In 1986, HK Partizan won their first Yugoslav championship since 1955.
The Serbian Hockey League was first contested, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, in the 1991-92 season. Croatia and Slovenia also set up their own leagues that year. HK Partizan has dominated the Serbian league, winning the championship 13 times. HK Vojvodina has won seven and KHK Red Star has claimed five.
The Yugoslav National Team made its international debut in 1934, playing a friendly game against Romania, which they lost 1-0. The team first appeared at the World Championships in 1939, finishing in a tie for 13th place. They next participated in the World Championships in 1951, with the backbone of the team consisting of Partizan players (seven representatives), placing sixth in Pool B. Yugoslavia never returned to the top division of the World Championships after 1939, and mostly played in the B, and sometimes in the C Pools. Yugoslavia made five appearances at the Olympic Games from 1964 to 1984, finishing as high as ninth in 1984. On the whole, the national team was mostly composed of players from Slovenia and Croatia.
Led by Russian coach Alexander Kostrjukov, Yugoslavia won the 1990 C Pool WC, finishing undefeated. There were four Serbian players on the team: Lazar Dunda, Nenad Ilić, Igor Kosović and Miloš Piperski. The Yugoslav team, filled solely with Serbian players (Slovenia and Croatia had seceded), made its final appearance at the 1992 World Championship, finishing in eighth place in the C Pool. After SFR Yugoslavia was formally dissolved, new teams were formed in Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (recognized as the legal successor to Yugoslavia), and Slovenia.
The Serbian-Montenegrin National Team made its international debut in 1995, playing in the C Pool of the World Championships held in Sofia, Bulgaria. They participated in the World Championships every year except 1999 between 1995 and 2006. After Serbia and Montenegro split, the Serbian National Team played in the 2007 World Championship Division II Group A. In 2009, they won the Division II Group A tournament, and were promoted to Division I for 2010. They were promptly relegated back to Division II and have played at that level since 2011. Some of the best players in recent times have been Marko Milovanović, Miloš Babić, and Marko Kovačević.
The Yugoslav Junior National Team first appeared at the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1981, finishing as high as fifth in Pool B in 1989. The Serbian-Montenegrin Junior National Team debuted in 1995, playing in the WJC C2 Pool held in Tallinn, Estonia. They participated in the world juniors every year between then and 2006, always playing in the lower divisions. The Serbian Junior National Team entered the scene at the 2007 WJC Division II Group B tournament held in Elektrenai, Lithuania. They have played exclusively in the Division II and Division III tournaments.