|National teams|| Men's|
|National federation||Polish Ice Hockey Federation|
|IIHF since||January 11, 1926|
|Top league||Polska Liga Hokejowa|
|Current champion||KH Sanok|
Poland is a country in Central Europe. Warsaw is the capital and largest city.
|Polska Liga Hokejowa||1926||-||Top-level national competition|
|Polish 1. Liga||1956||-||Second-level national competition|
|Polish 2. Liga||1966||1980 (re-founded 2011)||Third-level national competition|
|Polish Cup||1970||-||National cup competition|
|Polish Women's Hockey League||2010||-||National women's competition|
|Polish junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
History of hockey in PolandEdit
KS Cracovia initially began playing bandy hockey in 1909. The first mention of this game came on December 5, 1909, when it was announced that regular workouts would take place at the rink at the Park Krakowski from 10:00-13:00 every Sunday. On January 30, 1910, a match between Cracovia and Cracovia II was noted and the recruitment of female teams was later mentioned that December. In February 1911, it was said that Cracovia couldn't play any games due to a lack of local opponents. In 1912, the local press mentioned a "gang match" was played a year earlier.
The first ice hockey game played with a puck in Polish territory (the country was still part of Austria-Hungary at the time) was on February 4, 1912, between KS Cracovia and AKH Kraków. The latter side won 7-5 (match report). The next recorded game took place on February 17, 1922 between the two Warsaw-based teams of AZS and Polonia (3-0). The sport's development was aided by Wilhelm Rybak, a Canadian immigrant, who began teaching the game in Poland in 1924.
On February 22, 1925, four Warsaw-based clubs (Polonia Warszawa, AZS Warszawa, Warszawianka Warszawa, and WTL Warszawa) established the Polish Ice Hockey Federation, and the country joined the IIHF a year later, on January 11, 1926.
The national championship was first contested in 1927, and was won by AZS Warszawa, which claimed the first five national titles. The competition was divided into numerous regional championships with the top teams meeting to decide the national champion. Teams from Warsaw, Lwow (today Lviv, Ukraine), Poznan, Krakow, and Katowice fared the best. Numerous ethnic Jewish clubs also sprung up, many of whose members were likely killed in the Holocaust. Krynica hosted the 1931 World Championship.
World War II took its toll on Polish hockey, but the sport slowly began to take root again. The construction of the country's first indoor artificial ice rinks in the early 1950s helped kick-start its development. The first junior championship was staged in 1954 and a second-level league was organized in 1956. The Polska Liga Hokejowa was established the same year, replacing the national championship.
Legia Warszawa dominated the league during the 1950s and 1960s, winning 12 titles between 1951 and 1967. The club then ceded the eminent status to Podhale Nowy Targ, who won the championship 11 times during the 1960s and 1970s and has claimed a record 19 titles overall. The Polish Cup was contested in 1970 and 1971, and has been held annually since 2000. KH Zagłębie Sosnowiec enjoyed a run of five championships in six years from 1980-1985 and TMH Polonia Bytom won six titles between 1984 and 1991. In recent times, TH Unia Oświęcim went on a dominating run of seven consecutive championships from 1998-2004. KS Cracovia has claimed five titles since 2006.
The men's national team made its international debut playing in the European Championships in 1926. They also participated in the European Championships in 1927 and 1929, winning a silver medal at the 1929 tournament. Poland appeared at the inaugural 1930 World Championship, finishing in fifth place. Their best ever finish at the World Championships was fourth a year later. Led by captain Tadeusz Adamowski, brothers Adam and Aleksander Kowalski, and goaltender Jozef Stogowski, the inter-war years were a golden era in Polish hockey. Aleksander Kowalski lost his life in the war, as did Jozef Stogowski. Stogowski's hometown of Kopernik now has a rink named after him.
After the war, the national team returned to play in the 1947 World Championship, but then did not compete again until 1955. They played in the A Pool level in the 1950s but fell to B the Pool in 1961. Since then, Poland has alternated between those two divisions. Their last appearance in the A Pool came in 2002. Poland has made 13 appearances at the Olympic Games, the last coming in 1992. They enjoyed a modicum of success at the tournaments, recording a fourth place finish in 1932 and four sixth place finishes between 1948 and 1976.
The best ever Polish player is undoubtedly Mariusz Czerkawski. After representing Poland internationally, he made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins in 1994. He scored 35 goals and led the New York Islanders in scoring with 70 points in 1999-2000. A list of some other talented individuals includes: Henryk Bromowicz, Andrzej Fonfara, Bronislaw Gosztyla, Henryk Gruth, Tadeusz Obloj, Jerzy Christ, Jerzy Potz, Leszek Tokarz, Walenty Zietara, Leszek Laszikewicz, Marcin Kolusz, Przemysław Odrobny, and Mateusz Rompkowski.
The women's national team first appeared on the international scene in 2011, playing in Division V of the IIHF World Women's Championships. They won all four of their games to win the tournament. Poland followed this up by winning Division IIB in 2012, earning a promotion to Division IIA, which they later won in 2016.
The junior national team first participated in the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1977, finishing in eighth and last place in Pool A. Their best finish was fifth in Pool A in 1987. The Polish juniors have not competed in the top division since 1997.