Spain starts centennial season
by Martin Merk|29 SEP 2022
The first Spanish men’s national team competing at a World Championship event in 1977.
photo: RFEDH
The Royal Spanish Ice Sports Federation enters the 100-year anniversary season for ice hockey. Spain joined the International Ice Hockey Federation on 10 March 1923.

As a tribute to the 100-year anniversary, different campaigns are planned culminating with the hosting of the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group A in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

Spain was unanimously admitted at the 10th IIHF Congress in Antwerp, Belgium. At that time the IIHF had nine member countries, not including those excluded after World War I, with France, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Luxembourg and the USA. Spain was represented at the Congress by the diplomat, artist, film director and hockey player Edgar Neville, who created the first ice hockey federation in Spain.

Spain’s admission coincided with the building of the first artificial ice rink in Madrid. Before that rink ice hockey in the southern European country could only be played on natural ice in the Pyrenees of the Catalonia region. Belgian tycoon Georges Marquet helped build the Palacio del Hielo y del Automovil in French Renaissance style that opened on 30 October 1922 with the presence of King Alfonso XIII as the guest of honour. The rink measured 55 on 28 metres. The first hockey game at the rink was an exhibition game between Club de Patineurs de Paris (France) and Bruxelles IHC (Belgium). On 18 January 2023 the first game with Spanish teams was played there between Club Alpino Espanol and Real Club Puerta de Hierro and a first championship was created with five teams, the other three being Azul Hockey Club (the first champion), Castilla and Eis Hockey Club (a club participating from Germany that only played one game).
Spain’s first indoor ice rink in the 1920s in Madrid.
photo: RFEDH
Spain played at the 1924 IIHF Ice Hockey European Championship in Milan and the 1926 IIHF Ice Hockey European Championship in Davos but remained inactive in IIHF competitions for over fifty years until coming back for the 1977 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship C-Pool. The Spaniards finished the six-team tournament in fifth place thanks to a 5-2 win over Great Britain. Frank Gonzalez, today President of the federation and a former IIHF Council member, was the team’s scoring leader with four points.

The 100-year activities began with the presentation of the anniversary logo and will conclude with the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group A. Spain has in recent years hosted events in the Madrid region but in communities outside of the city. This time the event will be held at Pista de Hielo de Madrid in the city located close to the Canillas subway station. The rink was originally built in 2003 and in 2021 it was improved to allow ice hockey games.

At the event held in Madrid from 16 to 22 April 2023 Spain will play against Australia, Croatia, Iceland, Israel and Georgia.