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Slovenia

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Slovenia
Flag of Slovenia.svg
Continent Europe
Population 2,050,189
Registered players 943
Referees 50
Rinks 11
National teams Men's
Women's
Junior
National federation Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia
IIHF since May 6, 1992
IIHF ranking 18
Top league Slovenian Ice Hockey League
Current champion HDD Olimpija Ljubljana


Slovenia is a country in South-Central Europe. Ljubljana is the capital and largest city. Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia until 1991.

OverviewEdit

National TeamsEdit

Domestic TeamsEdit

See Category:Ice hockey teams in Slovenia

ArenasEdit

See Category:Arenas in Slovenia

CompetitionsEdit

Competition Founded Folded Notes
Yugoslav Ice Hockey League 1936 1991 Yugoslav-era competition
Yugoslav 2nd League ? ? Second-level Yugoslav-era competition
Slovenian Ice Hockey League 1991 - Top-level national competition
Slovenian 2nd League 1998 1999 Defunct second-level competition
Slovenian Cup 1996 2000 Defunct cup competition
Slovenian Supercup 1999 1999 Defunct cup competition
Slovenian Women's Hockey League 2000 - Top-level women's competition
Slovenian Junior Competitions - Various junior competitions

History of hockey in SloveniaEdit

In 1928, Stanko Bloudek formed the first hockey club in Slovenia, SK Ilrija Ljbubljana, together with Viktor Vodisek, and imported some hockey equipment from Vienna at his own expense. The first formal game was played on February 7, 1929. The game saw Ilrija defeat a team from the small town of Kamnik by a score of 15-1 (whose only goal was scored on a "header").

In 1932, SK Ilrija Ljubljana faced Klagenfurter AC in their first international match, falling 12-1. Two years later, Ljubljana organized the first international tournament in the region. The tournament was held at the Bled lake in front of the hotel spa, and besides the hosts (Ilrija), Villacher SV, Wiener EV and Ferencvárosi TC participated.

Ilrija was the best team in Yugoslavia prior to World War II. The team was declared Yugoslav champions in 1937 and 1938 without having to play a game. They also won the championship in 1939 and 1940, trampling their Serbian and Croatian opponents. After the war, hockey also spread to the Slovenian cities of Tržič, Celje, Maribor, Kranj, Brežice, Velenje, Prevojah, Vevče, Zalog, Kranjska Gora, and Bled. The Tivoli Ice Hall, an indoor ice rink, opened in Ljubljana in 1965. Another indoor facility, the Podmežakla Hall, opened in Jesenice in 1978.

Starting in the 1950s, HK Jesenice went on a run of dominance, winning the Yugoslav Ice Hockey League 15 years in a row between 1957 and 1971. During this time, they won 163 matches and lost only four. Overall, Jesenice and Olimpija (formerly Ilrija) won 36 out of 49 Yugoslav championships. In 1959 Jesenice recorded a 46-1 victory over Segesta Sistak, with the legendary forward Viktor Tišlar scoring 11 goals.

Tišlar played 801 games in the Yugoslav League, scoring 350 goals and recording 719 points. He won the league scoring title four times (1961, 1964, 1970 and 1972), the league title 14 times, and attended NHL training camps with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues in 1968-69, spending the season with the Springfield Kings of the American Hockey League. For the national team, he played in 155 matches, scoring 82 goals and 91 assists.

There were a lot of imports in the Yugoslav League during the 1980s. There was an "All-Star" game played in 1986-87, which was a somewhat grandiose spectacle featuring the national team and a selection of foreigners playing in the league. Before 2000 spectators in Ljubljana's Tivoli Hall, the Yugoslav national team won 9-8.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated in 1991, the Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia was founded, and the country joined the IIHF on May 6, 1992. Serbia and Montenegro had been recognized as Yugoslavia's direct successor by the IIHF.[1]

The Slovenian Ice Hockey League was first contested during the 1991-92 season. HDD Olimpija Ljubljana has won 15 Slovenian titles, while HK Jesenice has become champions nine times. Between 2009 and 2012, the Slohokej Liga, which also featured teams from Croatia and Serbia, existed alongside the domestic championship, which was held at the end of the year during that time period. Olimpija has also played in the Austrian Hockey League since 2007. HK Jesenice also competed in the league from 2006 to 2012.

The Yugoslav National Team made its debut at the World Championships in 1939. They were represented at the tournament by SK Ilrija Ljubljana. Players from the Jesenice and Ljubljana clubs constituted the majority of the national team. They next participated in the World Championships in 1951, 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.

In 1968, Yugoslavia won the B Pool of the Olympic tournament, winning all five games. The Slovenian-dominated roster included Viktor Tislar, Rudi Hiti, Anton Gale, Ivo Jan, and Albin Felc, among others. Felc led the tournament in scoring with six goals and five assists. A year later, three of the players became the first Slovenes to play in the National Hockey League. Although they only played in pre-season exhibition games, goalkeeper Anton Gale (playing for the Chicago Blackhawks) and forwards Albin Felc and Viktor Tišlar (for the St. Louis Blues) made history.

In March 1985, there were two exhibition games played between the current national (1985) team and the 1974 Yugoslav national team, which ten seasons earlier achieved the best finish (eighth place) in their history at the World Championship. In the first match at the Tivoli Hall, the current team won 9:4, while the second game at the Podmežakla Hall in Jesenice ended in a 6-6 tie. Some of the best Slovenes on the Yugoslav national team during the 1970s and 1980s included Zvone Suvak (129 goals and 73 assists in 155 games), Edo Hafner (108 goals and 79 assists in 203 games) and Gorazd Hiti (94 goals in 191 games).

The Slovenes last played under the flag of Yugoslavia in 1991. For the Yugoslav national team, Slovenian players made up a total of 144 (67.7%) of the 213 all-time members. The Slovenian National Team played its first game on March 20, 1992, a friendly against Austria, which they lost 1-0. They participated in the World Championship C Pool Qualification tournament in 1992, and qualified for the 1993 Woild Championship C Pool.[2] Slovenia first played in the Top Division of the World Championships in 2002, finishing in 13th place. The best player during the 1990s and early 2000s was Tomas Vnuk, who is the national team's all-time leading scorer.

Since 2002 the Slovenes have yo-yo'd between the Top Division and Division I. Led by transcendent star Anze Kopitar (the first Slovene to play in an NHL regular season game), as well as Jan Mursak (the second Slovenian to make it to the "show"), Tomaz Razingar, Robert Sabolic, and the Rodman brothers (Marcel and David), Slovenia qualified for their first-ever Olympics in 2014. The team, coached by Matjaz Kopitar (Anze's father who played internationally for both Slovenia and Yugoslavia), made it to the quarterfinals, and finished seventh overall.

The women's national team first appeared on the international scene in 2000, playing in Division II of the IIHF World Women's Championships. They won the Division III tournament in 2005 and have played at the Division II level since 2012.

The junior national team participated in the IIHF World U20 Championship Group C Qualification tournament in 1993 and 1994, and made their debut at the world juniors in 1995, finishing in second place in the C2 Pool. Their best finish was second place in the Division IB tournament on three occasions.

ReferencesEdit


IIHF logo.svg Members of the International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF logo.svg
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