This is a list of the South African ice hockey champions.
For most of South Africa's hockey playing history, there has not been a nationwide championship organized. The first league was organized in the Transvaal (today Gauteng) region of the country in 1937. Four teams participated - Maple Leafs, Mohawks, Lions and Protea. A junior League was later formed, and when the war broke out there were five clubs in existence, consisting of about 200 players who played in the junior and senior leagues. The local players were learning all the finer arts of the game from foreigners such as Jimmy Britton, Bobby Oppenheim, Stewart Morgan and Rolland Desilets.
After the war, the Transvaal League was resumed. There were three different competitions in those days - the Conrad, Dorfman and Olympia Trophies. Ice hockey was played in the South African summer period from September to April at this time. These were the clubs and rosters from the 1945-46 league season:
- Mohawks; Sprong – Jacques, Miller – Prehn, Beckman, Gullet, Vickers, D. Davis, R. Davis, Norval, Williams, Wilson, Thompson, Geffen
- Lions; Eyres – Battersbury, Lidtke, M. Sachs – A. Orentein, Hampton , M. Etter, R. Etter, Ward, Yeo, Russouw.
- Tigers; MacAdam – Desilets, Wilcox, Levy – Markwald, G. Orenstein, Nieft, Patrick, Lathi, Datnow, Louw, Simpkins, Curtin, Stephens.
- University; Hughes – Feldt, Lipworth – Jankowitz, C. Stenzel, P. Stenzel, Coleman, Farrenkotken, Begg, Pitt, O. Sachs, Siblapoberski.
The Mohawks won the league title but the best player in the league was Tigers defenceman Rolland Desilets. On May 1, 1946, the Rand Daily Mail lauded Desilets, stating that "His speed, trickery and control of the puck were a joy to watch."
In 1950, one of the eminent European players prior to World War II, German Rudi Ball, began playing in the Transvaal League. He had relocated to South Africa in 1948, joining his brother Heinz who was residing in Cape Town. Rudi played for Tigers and later for Wolves. In the booklet for the All Star Game between the South African born against the Overseas born in 1953, Rudi was presented with the following words: "Perhaps the greatest star of them all. He first represented Germany in two Olympic Games in 1932 and 1936 before coming to the Union. He is one of the most spectacular players ever seen here”
In 1950s and 1960s Durban, situated in the Natal province, was the epicenter of South African hockey. A strong league existed at the Durban Icedrome, which was built in 1955. Ice hockey was first played at the Durban rink in early 1956, when games were staged between the Johannesburg clubs. In 1957 Natal had their own side and an inter-provincial series began between the two provinces.
These were the rosters from the first inter-provincial game played October 5th, 1957 in Durban.
- Natal: Smith, Duffy – Paul, Von Hagen, Roberts, Smart – Phipson, Robinson, Cole, Campbell, Lawrence, Paton, Hertzberger, Prisley
- Transvaal: B. Lucas – D. Vickers, R. Davis, Durling, Scott – S. Lucas, Geffen, Josephson, Laidley, Schwerin, Yates, Bernhardt
A key figure in the development ice hockey in Durban was London-born Eric Sellers who helped propagate the game there. He was a member of the Tech Rangers when they became Natal champions in 1960.
Due to financial reasons there was no league ice hockey in Johannesburg in the 1957 and 1958-seasons, so the Johannesburg based players were required to Durban to practice and play. This elevated the level of play there significantly.
Gauteng then took over the lead in South African ice hockey for more than 40 years. Ice hockey was very popular in the region during the late 1960s and early 1970s when a semi-professional league was staged at the Wembley rink. Numerous internationals from Europe (mainly Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden) along with some Canadians were imported to strengthen local teams. As the league ran during the South African winter stretching from March-September (as they had been since the 1950s), the players could still compete in their old leagues, but also play in South Africa during the off-season for some additional "pocket-money".
Hymie Sofer, an astute and shrewd businessman, was instrumental in ushering in this "golden era" of South African domestic hockey. He bought the Wembley Ice Rink in 1964 and poured R 30,000 into ice hockey during his first three years as rink owner. He paid for significant renovations at the rink and also sent South African international Gerry Geffen (participated in 1961 and 1966 for South Africa in World Championships) to Canada on a scouting mission. Geffen signed three young players from Toronto, Billy le Page, Dave Park and goalkeeper Doug Scott. All three became important figures in the South African game for many seasons.
Austrian international forwards Walter Brandstatter and Heinz Knoflach arrived in the middle of the 1966 season and were also profiles for many years. The Wembley rink was jammed with 3,000 spectators for the games on every Tuesday night. The games were usually sellouts and for one important late season game, all reserved seats were sold out more then three weeks ahead. The following clubs were playing in the Transvaal League in 1968:
- Swiss Bears:
- Wembley Lions: Ohlsson, Basson – Van der Spuy, Keil, Knoflach, Josephson, Lucas, Rohde, Pretorius, Brazier, Snoyman.
- Southern Suburbs: Turnbull, Hayes – Chapman, Fonzari, Timoney, Beatt, Campbell, Ferris, Park, Bleau, Screen, Blake, Willox.
- Edelweiss: Zollner, Smith – Zupan, Chytill, Monsberger, Burkthaler, Wodak, Pletschacher, Lindhe, Garthoft, Stott, Prisley, Ford.
During the 1970s a lot of quality players played in the South African league. A Swiss owned team named the Swiss Bears had for example some of the best Swiss players ever playing there. Jakob Kölliker and Guido Lindemann were two of them. Defenseman Kölliker played 201 games for the Swiss national team and Lindemann won a couple of scoring titles in Switzerland. Finnish player Timo Lahtinen played for the Jungle Jets during the 1974-75 season. He had previously played in the Finnish Elite league. He later coached Swedish teams to league titles. The league could also get rather rowdy during this time period, and a group of players once beat up an official as they objected to him carrying a hand-gun in his pocket as he refereed the game.
Interest in the league began to decline towards the end of the decade. Crowds plummeted and the declining value of the Rand against other currencies made the importation of overseas players very expensive. When coupled with the drop in attendances, this became uneconomical for the organizers with the result that the league slowly became more centered around native South Africans, although many of the overseas players from before took up permanent residence and continued to play.
A second "golden era" began during the mid-1990s when the level of play again increased. There were also regional leagues in existence in Durban and the Western Province. The rinks there were smaller there so they played four on four and three on three. There was a national league in South Africa that was described as a "5 team televised league" played during the 2002 season.
The Interprovinical Championship, featuring select teams from the different provinces, was first held in 2002. Later the Inter-Club Championship was staged between club teams. The South African Super League was established as a nationwide competition in 2015.
For more information, see Gauteng League.
Western Province LeagueEdit
For more information, see Western Province Ice Hockey League.
- 2015: Cape Town Penguins
- 2014: unknown
- 2013: Cape Town Storm
- 2012: Cape Town Penguins
- 2011: unknown
- 2010: Cape Town Rams
- 2009: unknown
- 2008: Team Maurizio
- 2007: Cape Town Eagles
No champion information known
- 2002: Gauteng Selects
- 2003: Gauteng Selects
- 2004: Gauteng Selects
- 2005: Gauteng Selects
- 2006: Gauteng Selects
- 2007: Western Gauteng
- 2008: Western Province
- 2009: unknown
- 2010: Gauteng
- 2011: Gauteng Miners
- 2012: Cape Town Penguins
- 2013: Pretoria Capitals
South African Super LeagueEdit
For more information, see South African Super League.
- 2015: Gauteng Wildcats
(the 1992-2001 "South African Championship" seasons were actually the Gauteng League competition.)
- 1992-93 South African Championship
- 1993-94 South African Championship
- 1994-95 South African Championship
- 1995-96 South African Championship
- 1996-97 South African Championship
- 1997 South African Championship
- 1998 South African Championship
- 1999 South African Championship
- 2000 South African Championship
- 2001 South African Championship
- 2012 South African Club Championship
- 2013 South African Club Championship
- 2013 South African Junior Interprovincial Championship
- 2013 South African Women's Interprovincial Championship
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on the South African leagues.
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South African Super League (List of South African champions)