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History of Ice Hockey in Slovakia

Canada is a country notoriously known for introducing the game of ice hockey to the world. Although there were games of similar forms played around the globe ice hockey is the one to get dominate. As for instance bandy hockey a game very close to modern ice hockey was modified and later on fully replaced by ice hockey.

At an early stage of ice hockey development in Europe the first European Championships took place in 1910 and the game was a mixture of bandy and ice hockey elements. The difference between bandy and ice hockey in general was mainly the rules and the protective equipment used by players. Bandy hockey used shorter sticks and protective equipment was also rather modest.

The Canadian form of the game as we know it today fully took over the continent during the Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924. But on the international scale an international organization was not established earlier than 1908 the International Ice Hockey Federation. The IIHF includes nowadays nations not only from Europe but many from around the world as for instance Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan. In Slovakia as a part of former Czechoslovakia canadian Ice Hockey got popularized during the European Championships in High Tatras in 1925.

In 1929 the first official tournament (the second oldest in Europe after the Spengler Cup in Switzerland) the Tatra Cup in Slovakia got initiated and the first organization of slovak ice hockey was established under the name of Slovenska zupa kanadskeho ladoveho hokeja as a part of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation in what was then Czechoslovakia.

The first organized competition was held in 1930 and the first slovak team which managed it to compete with stronger czech teams was HC Tatry in 1936. Another team from Slovakia joined the common competition in the following year.

During the course of history of ice hockey in Czechoslovakia many Slovakian players became eligible to play for the national selection of Czechoslovakia. Among those who were to achieve this was Ladislav Trojak a native of Kosice, who left for Prague to play for, at those times considered to be the best ice hockey team in the country, the LTC Praha in 1934. From there it was only a step away from playing for the national team.

There are also many others however who made Slovakia famous through ice hockey around the world.

Similarly to the Czech Republic, Slovakia is also internationally considered to be a breeding ground for talented players many of who are playing in the best leagues around the world of which the NHL is the most prestigious one.

[1] [1] [1] Czechoslovakia and as well as its successor states are rated being among the leading nations on the international scene thanks to their triumphs in Winter Olympic Games, World Championships.

Although the Slovakian national team had to face another difficult challenge in 1993 after the separation of Czechoslovakia, where according the IIHF regulations it had to compete with countries with less or no Ice Hockey tradition at all and prove being worth to compete on the highest level. Many ice hockey experts and journalists found it rather humiliating for Slovakia, but finally it found its way all the way back to the top. Within only a few years of independent existence as a young nation it could mark its biggest triumph ever by winning the world championships in Sweden in 2002.

Other useful links on this topic [1] or for a closer look on the history of Ice Hockey [1]