|National federation||Spanish Ice Sports Federation|
|IIHF since||March 10, 1923|
|Top league||Spanish Superliga|
|Current champion||CH Jaca|
Spain is a country in southwestern Europe. Madrid is the capital and largest city.
|Liga Nacional de Hockey Hielo||1972||-||Top-level national league|
|2a división||2009||-||Second-level national league|
|Copa del Rey||1973||-||National cup competition|
|Spanish Supercup||2013||2014||Cup competition|
|Spanish Championship||1923||1961||Defunct national championship|
|Spanish junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
|Liga Nacional de Hockey Hielo Femenino||2008||-||National women's league|
History of hockey in Spain
The first ice hockey games in Spain were played on natural ice in Catalunya and in the Pyrenees mountains during the early 1900s. Hockey was played on the frozen lake of Cerdanya, and the March 18, 1909, edition of El Mundo Deportivo wrote about the new sport, describing it as a kind of "polo on skates". A series of exhibition games involving Canadian and British players were also held around the same time period. Members of the Club Alpino Español also took up the sport.
Wealthy hotel tycoon Georges Marquet announced in September 1920 that the first artificial ice rink in Spain was going to be constructed in the capital of Madrid. A driving force behind the rink was the president of the San Sebastian Hockey Club. The luxurious and elegant rink, known as the Palacio del Hielo y del Automovil, opened on October 30, 1922, with the Spanish King being invited as an honorary guest.
The first official ice hockey game in Spain was played the same evening, with the French side Club des Patineurs de Paris defeating the Belgian club Brussels IHSC 13-2. Spanish clubs soon made their debuts, and the inaugural Spanish Championship was contested in January 1923. Azul Hockey Club became the first-ever national champions. A touring club team, Hockey Club Madrid, was also assembled. The squad participated in several international tournaments.
Four teams created an ice hockey association as part of the Spanish Field Hockey Association in 1923. The The Federación Espanola Deportes de Invierno (Spanish Winter Sports Federation) was founded later the same year. Spain joined joined the IIHF on March 10, 1923. Today the Spanish Ice Sports Federation is the governing body of ice hockey and other winter sports in Spain.
Domestic hockey in Spain continued until the closure of the Palacio del Hielo in 1926, and was not revived again until the early 1950s. Catalonia was the hotbed for the sport during this era, with games taking place at the Pista del Valle del Santuario in the Vall de Nuria. Championships were staged between 1953 and 1961, but ice hockey again fizzled out in the early 1960s.
Indoor rinks opened in Barcelona and San Sebastian in 1971. Two major football clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad, created ice hockey sections and the Liga Nacional de Hockey Hielo was contested for the first time during the 1972-73 season. Real Sociedad HH won the inaugural league title and repeated as champions the next year, before ceding the championship to crosstown rivals CHH Txuri Urdin. The league's high-point was the 1975-76 season, when 11 teams battled it out for the championship.
At this time, the league included clubs from outside traditional hockey playing regions such as Seville from Andalusia and Las Palmas of the Canary Islands. CH Casco Viejo Bilbao was the first Spanish club to play in the IIHF European Cup in 1978-79. They were soundly defeated by the Dutch Heerenveen Flyers, 9-3 and 21-2.
After experiencing growth during the 1970s and early 1980s, Spanish hockey had fallen on hard times by the mid-80s. Many rinks were closed and various clubs were dissolved. The surviving teams were afflicted by financial difficulties, so it was decided to take several years off from staging a senior competition. Instead, a championship composed of squads made up entirely players aged 20 and under was contested during the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons.
The senior players continued to practice and play informal matches until the Romanian Radu Enesco came up with a plan to improve the domestic league and national team. Other coaches, including as Jan Mitosinka and Dr. Richard Pergi of Czechoslovakia and West Germans Toni Waldmann and Bernard Haake, helped develop the game in Spain. The senior league has been contested annually since 1989. CH Jaca is the most decorated club in league history, having won 13 national championships. The Copa del Rey has also been played yearly since 1973.
There are a lot of imports in the Spanish league, the majority of the imports coming from Ukraine, Slovakia, Sweden, France and North America. The best player to ever play in the Spanish league with the Swede Kent Nilsson, who took part in six regular season games (8-12-20) and two playoff contests (3-8-11) with Majadahonda HC in 1997-98. The 42-year-old, formerly retired Nilsson dominated the league, helping them win their first and only national title.
In 1924, the national team competed in the European Championships held in Milan, Italy. Prior to their first game against Switzerland, two of Spain's seven players were injured. Due to this, Switzerland agreed to play with only five players allowing the game to continue as planned. Switzerland ended up winning 12–0. Spain was forced to forfeit their second game against Sweden due to the injuries suffered by their players. Sweden had also agreed to play with five players.
There were also plans to send a Spanish team to the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, but this did not materialize. In 1926, Spain again competed in the European Championships held in Davos, Switzerland. In their first game against Belgium, Spain lost 5–0. They also lost their second game to Czechoslovakia (9-2). In the consolation pool, Spain tied Italy 2–2 and lost to Poland, 4–1. Some of the pioneers from these early years were the Arche brothers (Angel, Juan, and Ricardo), Edgar Neville, and Fernando Muguiro.
After the 1926 EC, it would be more than 50 years until Spain returned to the international scene again. Plans for a Spanish team to enter the 1928 Winter Olympics fell through, as they did in 1924. At the 1977 World Championship Pool C tournament, Spain finished fifth, defeating Great Britain 5-2 for their only victory. A year later, Las Palmas hosted the 1978 Pool C competition, followed by Barcelona in 1979. Spain has hosted a total of nine World Championship tournaments.
After wining the 2010 World Championship Division IIA Group, Spain earned a spot in the Division I tournament for the first time ever. Juan Munoz, Alejandro Pedraz, Adrian Betran, and goaltender Ander Alcaine were among the key members of this team. They were promptly relegated back to Division II the following year, however.
The national team's all-time leading scorer is Inaki Salegui, who played internationally for nearly 20 years (1989-2008). One of the most important figures of all-time in Spanish hockey is forward Frank Gonzalez. After growing up in Canada, he starred in the Spanish league with FC Barcelona, Casco Viejo and Puigcerda, captained the national team as a member during the 1970s and 1980s, served as an IIHF referee and is currently the Spanish delegate on the IIHF Council. Other notable Spanish players have included: goaltender Inaki Leclrecq, defensemen Roman Munitiz, Luis Fernando "Tito" Marcelino, Miguel Baldris, Gonzalo Eguiluz, and Carlos Kubela, and forwards Antonio Capillas, Ricardo VeaCarlos Del Saz, Jordi Pous, Jua M. Izquierdo and Inaki Izaguirre.
The women's women's national team first appeared on the international scene in 2009, playing an international event at Cergy in France, where they lost the event's opening match on May 21 against a Bavarian selection, by a score of 10-1. They also celebrated their first victory on the same day, beating the Lady Panthers Grefrath 4-0. Their first match against another national team at that event was their match against Belgium on May 22, 2009, which they lost 3-1. Spain competed at the IIHF World Women's Championships for the first time in 2011, finishing second in Division V. In 2012, they finished second in the Division IIB tournament.