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Czech Republic
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg
Continent Europe
Population 10,562,214
Registered players 100,668
Referees 49
Rinks 81
National teams Men's
Women's
Junior
Women's U18
National federation Czech Ice Hockey Association
IIHF since November 15, 1908 (founding member)
IIHF ranking 5
Top league Czech Extraliga
Current champion HC Litvínov


The Czech Republic is a country in Central Europe. Prague is the capital and largest city.

OverviewEdit

National TeamsEdit

Defunct

Domestic TeamsEdit

See Category:Ice hockey teams in the Czech Republic (also Category:Ice hockey teams in Bohemia and Category:Ice hockey teams in Czechoslovakia

ArenasEdit

See Category:Arenas in the Czech Republic

CompetitionsEdit

Competition Founded Folded Notes
Bohemia
Bohemian Crown Lands Championship 1901 1912 Top-level national competition
Magazine of Sports and Games Cup 1903 1909 Early bandy competition
Bohemian Championship 1907 1915 Top-level national competition
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovak Championship 1919 1935 National championships in various forms
German Association Championship 1930 1938 Ethnic German competition
Czechoslovak Extraliga 1936 1993 Top-level national competition
Regionální soutěže 1936 1954 Second-level regional competitions
Bohemia and Moravia
Bohemian-Moravian Championship 1939 1945 Top-level competition
Winter Games 1944 1945 Tournament competition
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovak Cups 1941 1989 Various cup competitions
Czechoslovak 2. Liga 1953 1969 Second-level national competition
Czechoslovak Regional Championships 1954 1993 Fourth-level regional competition
Oblastní soutěže 1955 1960 Third-level regional competition
Divize 1968 1979 Low-level regional competition
1. Česká národní hokejová liga 1969 1993 Second-level Czech competition
2. Česká národní hokejová liga 1973 1993 Third-level Czech competition
Czechoslovak Junior Competitions - 1993 Various junior competitions
Czech Republic
Czech Extraliga 1993 - Top-level national competition
Czech 1.liga 1993 - Second-level national competition
Czech 2.liga 1993 - Third-level national competition
Czech Regional Championships 1993 - Fourth-level regional competitions
Czech District Championships - Local competitions
Tipsport Hockey Cup 2000 2010 Defunct cup competition
Czech Junior Competitions 1993 - Various junior competitions
Czech Women's Hockey League 1993 - Top-level women's competition

History of hockey in the Czech RepublicEdit

For more information on the early years in Bohemia prior to 1918, please see Bandy and Ice Hockey in Austria (1894-1923).

Early years (1894-1918)Edit

Josef Rossler-Orovsky introduced the game of bandy to Bohemia in 1894. The game of ice hockey was first introduced and demonstrated in Prague in 1905 by a Canadian named Ruck Andersson. The Bohemian Ice Hockey Federation was founded in 1908. The same year, Bohemia joined the IIHF (then known as the LIHG) on November 15.

Some of the earliest competitions to be played in Bohemia included the Bohemian Crown Lands Championship (1901), the Magazine of Sports and Games Cup (1903), and the Bohemian Championship (1917).

Bohemia played its first game in 1909 against France during the Coupe de Chamonix which was being held in Chamonix, France.[1] Bohemia lost the game 1–8 and lost all of their three other games at the tournament against Belgium, England and Switzerland. During the tournament the teams 0–11 loss against England would be recorded as the teams largest ever loss in international participation.[1] The following year Bohemia announced their intention to participate in the inaugural European Championships being held in Les Avants, Switzerland however withdrew due to a lack of training.[2] In 1911 Bohemia participated in 1911 European Championship being held in Berlin, Germany.[1] Bohemia won the tournament after winning all three of their games and finishing on top of the standings. During the tournament they also achieved their largest ever win in international participation when they beat Switzerland 13–0.[1] The following year Bohemia, this time being represented by the club team HC Slavia Praha, again won gold at the European Championships however the tournament was annulled by the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG) congress due to Austria not being affiliated with the LIHG at the time of the tournament.[2] During the 1913 European Championship Bohemia finished second behind Belgium who won their first title.[2] In 1914 Bohemia competed in an exhibition game against Germany in Montreux, Switzerland. Germany won the game 4–2 and recorded their first and only win over Bohemia.[1] A month later Bohemia competed in their last European Championship. Being represented again by HC Slavia Praha Bohemia went on to win their third Championship in four years after winning both of their games and finishing on top the standings.[2]

After playing their last game in 1914 the Bohemian national team was succeeded by the Czechoslovakia men's national ice hockey team after the Kingdom of Bohemia was dissolved and became part of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Czechoslovakia also assumed Bohemia's spot in the IIHF. Some of the top players during the early years included Jaroslav Jarkovsky, Jaroslav Jirkovsky, Jan Palous (who scored the first ever goal for the NT), and the Fleischmann brothers (Jan and Mila).

Inter-war Czechoslovakia (1919-1939)Edit

The first national competition to be held in the new Czechoslovakia was the 1919 Czech Hockey Union Championship. It was organized by the Československý svaz hokejový (ČSSH; in English, Czechoslovak Hockey Union). This new federation governed bandy, ice hockey, and field hockey. Three of the four teams to play in the tournament were from the SK Slavia Praha organization, and the first team won the championship.

The Czechoslovak National Team made its international debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics hockey tournament, staged in Antwerp, Belgium. A 1-0 victory over Sweden earned them the bronze medal. Following the country's success as the tournament, the ice hockey section of the CSSH was spun off into the Československý svaz kanadského hokeje (ČSSKH; in English, Czechoslovak Union of Canadian Hockey).

The Czechoslovaks traveled to Sweden to play in the 1921 European Championship, the only European country to make the trip. The Swedes won by a score of 7-4. The Czechoslovak federation was short on money and a very mild winter in Prague had only allowed four days where the weather outside was suitable for skating. However, the national team players all wanted to travel to Sweden to defend their 1914 European title (won as Bohemia). They had also promised the Swedes that they would come and play following their win over them at the 1920 Olympic tournament. The players felt it was unethical and unsportsmanlike to renege on their agreement.

After arriving in Sweden, they played two warm-up matches against Swedish sides, defeating Stockholm Select 2-1 while falling to IK Göta 7-2. However, these matches were not enough to make up for the lack of practice earlier in the year, and the Swedes won easily, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and coasting to victory. An interesting anecdote was that Karel Pesek-Kada wore sunglasses during the first half of the game, as he was bothered by the stadium lights.

They reclaimed the mantle of European champions in 1922, exacting revenge on Sweden in the deciding game, 3-2. This was the first time Josef Maleček wore his country's colors internationally. The 18-year-old played sparingly at the tournament but he would soon blossom into a star and become the most decorated player in inter-war European hockey. By 1927 he was well-regarded enough that the trophy given to that year's European champions (Austria) was a statue of Malecek.

In 1922 there was a "Republic Championship" staged. It ran concurrently with the 1922 European Championship, was played in the bandy hockey format, and was won by SK Strakonice. The following year (1923) the Czechoslovak Hockey Union Championship in ice hockey was won by AC Sparta Praha. In December 1923, Sparta withdrew from the CSSKH and formed their own association, the Československá asociace kanadského hokeje (ČSAKH; Czechoslovak Association of Canadian Hockey).

Sparta did not participate in the 1924 Czechoslovak Championship, instead choosing to schedule games against the top Austrian club, Wiener EV. The tournament was hosted and won by SK Slavia Praha. A cup was donated by the Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, likely because his son, Herbert (who died in 1915), had been an avid hockey player.

The dispute also had an impact on the Czechoslovak team at the 1924 Winter Olympics. Josef Malecek (who played for Sparta) was the only player affiliated to a club in the CSKAH chosen to play for the national team at the tournament. Being a soldier in the Czechoslovak army, he was ordered to participate by the Ministry of Defense. The team finished fifth at the tournament.

The Czechoslovaks added another European Championship title in 1925. They played host to the tournament, which was played up in the Tatra mountains in the towns of Štrbské Pleso and Starý Smokovec (today part of Slovakia). The two rival federations finally settled their differences and re-unified prior to the tournament. In a dominant performance, the national team won all three games while failing to concede a goal. Malecek was the tournament's leading scorer.

There was a strong German contingent in inter-war Czechoslovakia. Numerous ethnic German clubs were in existence and there was even a special federation known as the Deutscher Eishockey Verband (DEHV). The German clubs threatened to boycott having their players participate at the 1929 European Championship. This dispute was soon resolved as a match was arranged in January 1929 between Prague and Troppau (where the best ethnic German players were located - most played for Troppauer EV Opava), from which the national team roster was chosen. Four TEV players (Wolfgang Dorasil, Wilhelm Heinz, Johann Lichnovsky, and Jan Mattern) were chosen for the squad.

A 2-1 overtime victory over Poland secured the championship for Czechoslovakia. Although Wolfgang Dorasil the winning goal in the final, it was Josef Malecek that generated the most buzz. The Czechoslovak Sport newspaper wrote the following about him: " It was the ultimate excellence in a hockey rink. He dazzled the crowd in a way so that even the most rabid Hungarian [the tournament was staged in Budapest] had to admit that he was the King of the tournament. His amazing movement and puck skills in combination with his incredible way to constantly set up his teammates was a thing of beauty."

There were little in the way of organized competitions in Czechoslovakia until 1930, when the Czechoslovak Championship was formed. Before then, club teams mostly played friendly matches and took part in regional tournaments against other local teams. The winner of the Prague Championship always received a spot in the Championship final against another regional champion.

LTC Praha won the 1930 Czechoslovak Championship with a 3-1 victory over AC Stadion České Budějovice. Resplendent in blue and yellow jerseys, LTC was the eminent club in the country throughout the decade, and was one of the top club teams in all of Europe. They quickly became a strong side as in 1927 when there was a quarrel among Sparta Praha members, which led to many elite players moving to LTC. This included Malecek as well as other top players and national team members Jaroslav Pusbauer, Jiri Tozicka, and Jan Peka.

LTC won the prestigious Spengler Cup four times. They also fared well against touring Canadian teams, who would play numerous exhibition games before playing in the World Championship, managing to beat the Saskatoon Quakers (1-0), and tie the Ottawa Shamrocks (1-1) and Sudbury Wolves (1-1). The Swedish national team was unable to beat LTC in the three games that they played against each other in the 1930s. Domestically, LTC played numerous exhibition matches around the country, smacking their opponents while Malecek, Karel Hromadka, and Tozicka lit up the scoreboard. They also dominated the Prague and Czechoslovak championships.

The country's first artificial ice rink, the Zimní stadión Štvanice, opened in Prague in 1931. The facility played host to the 1933 World Ice Hockey Championships, where Czechoslovakia won the bronze medal (finishing behind the US and Canada) and were proclaimed European champions. The sport exploded in popularity in the country after this event. The Zimni stadion later hosted the 1938 World Ice Hockey Championships, where the host country again claimed third place.

In 1932 the Československá liga kanadského hokeje (ČSLKH; in English Czechoslovak Ice Hockey League) was formed. Domestic hockey remained very disorganized however, with a glut of regional championships still in existence. The ethnic German clubs even had their own championship, the "Meisterschaft des Deutschen-Hockeyverbandes" (German Association Championship), which utilized a very complicated format.

Not until 1936-37 was there a national ice hockey league in Czechoslovakia. This was the year that the Czechoslovak Extraliga (also called the First League/Státní liga) came into existence. Three teams from Prague, as well as the winners of five other regional competitions, formed the nucleus of the league. LTC Praha won the first two league championships. By 1938 the CSLKH counted 361 member clubs. This included some recently-created ethnic Hungarian teams.

The national league was not contested in 1938-39. Instead numerous regional competitions were again staged. In the absence of a national championship, LTC Praha was declared Czechoslovak champions as they were still undoubtedly the best club in the country. Czechoslovakia finished fourth in the 1939 World Ice Hockey Championships and second in the European Championship standings.

The Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia had already been annexed by Germany in 1938. On March 16, 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia and, from Prague Castle, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

World War II (1939-1945)Edit

The Bohemian-Moravian Championship was contested from 1940 to 1944. LTC Praha won it four out of the five times it was played. There were also lower-level local championships staged.

There was no championship in 1944-45 and the season was greatly influenced by the events of World War II. Thus, while hockey was still played, it was only with a number of restrictions enforced.

Due to nighttime blackouts, all games were required to take place during daylight hours. Travel restrictions imposed made staging a national championship an impossibility. Thus, only county-level competitions were arranged, known as Zimní hry (Winter Games).

The national team of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia played its first game in January 1940 against Germany during an exhibition game being held in Prague, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.[1] The team won the game 5–1. The following month the team competed in two exhibition matches with three other matches held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany as part of the 1940 International Week of Winter Sports, and the other two in Prague. Bohemia and Moravia's first game in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was against Slovakia which they won 12–0.[1] This was recorded as Bohemia and Moravia's largest win in their short international participation. The other two games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen were against Italy and Hungary which they won 5–0 and 6–0 respectively.[1] After their three games in Germany, the team returned to Prague to compete in a two-game series against Hungary. The first game ended in a 1–1 draw while Bohemia and Moravia won the second 2–1.[1]

After playing their last game on 7 February 1940 the team was succeeded by the reformed Czechoslovak National Team after the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was dissolved and became part of the re-established Czechoslovak Republic.

Post-war Czechoslovakia (1945-1993)Edit

After the war communism came to Czechoslovakia and the country went behind the Iron Curtain. The Czechoslovak Extraliga (First League/Státní liga) was contested again in 1945-46. LTC Praha continued their run of dominance, winning four more league titles between 1946 and 1949.

The national team returned to play in the 1947 World Championship and promptly won the country's first-ever WC gold medal. Most of the top pre-war players had moved on (including Malecek, who was now in his mid-40s and fled the country in 1948) and there were numerous fresh faces on the roster. The only members of the 1939 team left were goaltender Bohumil Modry, defensemen Josef Trousilek, Frantisek Pacalt, and Vilibald Stovik, and forwards Ladislav Trojak and Jaroslav Drobny.

A new star was born in Vladimir Zabrodsky, who had grown up idolizing Malecek. In 1949 Czechoslovakia overcame tragedy to win their second world championship and ninth European Championship. In November 1948 six Czechoslovak players (Ladislav Troják, Karel Stibor, Zdeněk Jarkovský, Vilibald Šťovík, Miloslav Pokorný and defenseman Zdeněk Švarc) were lost when their plane went missing crossing the English Channel. Despite the key losses to their roster, they defeated the Sudbury Wolves, Canada's representative, three to two. It was only the third defeat for the Canadians at a World Championship. The Americans were able to top the Czechs in the final round, which earned them a bronze medal. However, the Czechoslovaks clinched the gold with a 3-0 win over the hosts Sweden on the last day of the tournament.

The Czechoslovaks did not appear at the 1950 London World Championship to defend their title. Officially, they did not arrive in London because two of their journalists did not receive their visas.[3] However, based on lingering suspicions about the previous year's six disappearing players, and the defection of star Jaroslav Drobný, several players were arrested in Prague, while awaiting their delayed flight to the tournament.

On October 7, 1950, the players appeared in court charged with espionage and were named, "state traitors." At issue was the claim that in 1948 several players on LTC Praha (comprising much of the national team) had discussed defection in Davos following the Spengler Cup. On that trip, Miroslav Slama and two other players did in fact defect, along with one of the heads of the delegation. All were convicted, with sentences ranging from eight months, to 15 years. Bohumil Modry, no longer a member of the national team, was the one to receive the fifteen-year sentence, as he was mysteriously cast as the "main figure" in the potential defection plan.

This sad event also marked the end of LTC Praha's two-decade long dominance of Czechoslovak domestic hockey. After Spartak Sokolovo Praha (Sparta) won back-to-back national championships in 1953 and 1954, the balance of power in the league shifted away from Prague. ZKL/Rudá hvězda Brno, HC Dukla Jihlava, and HC Kladno became the top teams in the league. No team from Prague would win the title again until 1990 (Sparta).

Czechoslovakia returned to international play at the 1952 Winter Olympics. They withdrew from the 1953 World Championship after four games when it became obvious that their president, Klement Gottwald, was going to die from pneumonia he contracted at Josef Stalin's funeral. General František Janda, the Chairman of the State Committee for the Physical Education and Sport ordered the team home, and Gottwald died the next day, March 14, 1953. The team was disqualified, their results annulled and their remaining games cancelled.

Although the Czechoslovaks were remarkably consistent in international play, medaling numerous times at the World Championship and Olympic tournaments, they would not win the gold again until the 1972 World Championships, which Prague hosted. Strong goaltending and defensive corps were key in the victory. Jiri Holecek won the tournament's best goaltender award.

In 1976 Czechoslovakia claimed the World Championship title again, losing only one game and sweeping the tournament awards (Jiri Holecek - goaltender, Frantisek Pospisil - defenseman, Vladimir Martinec - forward). They repeated as champions in 1977.

They won their sixth World Championship title in 1985, with Prague again playing host to the tournament. The Czechoslovak National Team's final international event was the 1992 World Championship, co-hosted by Prague and Bratislava. They took third at the tournament with a 5-2 win over the Swiss in the bronze medal game.

Czechoslovakia was very successful internationally in the post-war (1947-1992) period. They medaled seven times at the Olympics (four silver and three bronze) and won 31 medals at the World Championships (six gold). They were truly the second best team in an era where the Soviet Union dominated in international play.

The Women's Czechoslovak National Team first appeared on the international scene in 1988, playing a friendly game against the Swiss national team, which they lost 8-1. They participated in the IIHF European Women Championships in 1989 and 1991, finishing in seventh and eighth place respectively. When Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992 the Czechoslovakian women's national team was disbanded and succeeded by the Czech and Slovak women's national teams.

The Czechoslovak Junior National Team first participated in the IIHF World U20 Championship in 1974, finishing in sixth and last place. They never won the gold at the world juniors, but won five silver and six bronze medals. In 1994, the team was disbanded in favor of the Czech and Slovak national junior teams.

Czech Independence (1993-present)Edit

After Czechoslovakia broke up in 1993, its IIHF membership was transferred over to the Czech Republic. The Czech Ice Hockey Association is the governing body of ice hockey in the country.

The Czech Extraliga has been contested as the top-level league in the Czech Republic since 1993-94. It is generally considered to be one of the top five leagues in Europe. Below it lie the Czech 1.liga, Czech 2.liga, and finally numerous Czech Regional Championships.

The Czech National Team succeeded the Czechoslovak National Team in international play. It is one of the best national ice hockey teams in the world and a member of the so-called "Big Six", the unofficial group of the six strongest men's ice hockey nations, along with Canada, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The team has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, winning six gold medals at the World Championships (1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, and 2010). Their crowning achievement was claiming the gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan.

Some of the best Czech players in this era include: Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Vladimir Ruzicka, Roman Cechmanek, Petr Svoboda, Jakub Voracek, David Krejci, and Tomas Plakenec.

The junior national team first participated in the IIHF World U20 Championship in 1994. In 1993, Czechoslovakia was dissolved during the tournament. However, the team remained unified for the remainder of the competition, but the Czechoslovakian flag and anthem were retired in favor of the IIHF logo. They won the gold at the world juniors in back-to-back years, in 2000 and 2001.

The women's national team made its international debut at the IIHF European Women Championships in 1993, and at the IIHF World Women's Championships in 1999. They have never qualified for the Olympic Games, and have mostly played in Divisions I and II at the World Championships. The Czechs were promoted to the Top Division for 2016.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Bohemia All Time Results". National Teams of Ice Hockey. http://www.nationalteamsoficehockey.com/uploads/Bohemia_All_Time_Results.pdf. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Müller, Stephan (2005). International Ice Hockey Encyclopaedia 1904–2005. Germany: Books on Demand, 166–167. ISBN 3-8334-4189-5. 
  3. Tournament Summary


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