|National teams|| Men's|
|National federation||Hellenic Ice Sports Federation|
|IIHF since||April 29, 1987|
|Top league||Greek Championship|
|Current champion||Iptamenoi Pagodromoi Athinai|
Greece is a country in Europe. Athens is the capital and largest city.
|Greek Championship||1989||2013||Former top-level national competition|
History of hockey in Greece
Ice hockey in Greece is a relatively new sport and the first official game wasn't played until 1985 in Athens. Hockey was introduced in Thessaloniki though (which is in the north eastern part of Greece) mainly by Greek emigrants who had lived in Czechoslovakia. Greek emigrants from Romania and Canada also helped to develop the sport in Greece by building ice rinks among other things. From the beginning the five ice rinks that existed were in the Greek capital of Athens. One was about 16 miles (25 km) from central Athens and three were in Piraeus, but only one rink was regular sized, and that one was at the sports stadium Neo Faliro, and that rink only had ice for two or three weeks per year.
The Greek Championship was first contested in 1989. It was held yearly until 1993, when it was shut down. Economic help was discontinued by the Greek Undersecretary of State for Sports and all expenses to keep ice hockey alive were passed over to the players. Practices stopped and many players quit. The championship was revived for one season in 2000, before becoming dormant again until 2008 when the Moschato Ice Rink closed. The only other rink left in the country was too small to play games on. In 2002 an effort was made to rebuild the league but all efforts fell short. The only ice rink left in Greece closed down in May 2003. The championship was re-started in 2008 when a rink re-opened after the national team qualified for the World Championships. It again went dormant after the 2013 season when Greece was banned from international play by the IIHF.
The first game that a Greek team played against international competition was a friendly against a Yugoslav team from Skopje late in 1987. The Greeks lost the game 12-8. The first international tournament where a Greek team was involved was in Sofia (Bulgaria) late in 1988 where Aris Saloniki played against teams from Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria. They lost all their games and their best effort was a 12-3 loss to CSKA Sofia.
The Greek National Team made its debut in the C2 World Championships played in Johannesburg in 1992. The Greeks debuted with three other teams (Israel, Turkey and Luxembourg). The Greek team had a good mixture of young and old players. Eight of the players were under 20 and six were over 30. They made a splendid debut in front of thousands of Greeks. Johannesburg happened to be a small Greek "colony" where over 40,000 Greeks live. The Greeks beat their neighbors from Turkey in the first game 15-3. Then they beat Luxembourg 9-5. After that they lost only 10-1 to the much more experienced Spain. In the next game Greece fought heroically and lost 9-4 to South Africa. In the last game they beat Israel 7-4. This gave Greece a fine third place in their international debut.
Most of the Greek players were born and raised in Czechoslovakia where there also is a small colony of Greeks. A lot of the players came from the Greek champion club Aris Saloniki. Two of the Czechs-Greeks were the Adamidis brothers (born in Ostrava, Czech Republic). Goalie Savas Adamidis played great between the pipes and was chosen as the best goalie of the tournament. His brother Georgios Adamidis was the best Greek scorer. He collected 18 points (12+6) in 5 games and finished in 5th place on the scoring chart behind four guys from Spain. Canadian born (Powell River) Dimitrios Malamas was the next best Greek scorer and finished in 7th place overall with 16 points (6+10) in 5 games. The team was coached by Romanian Mirel Dumitrache who used to play in the Romanian Hockey League during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Since a lot of the former Soviet states debuted,Greece had to play qualification games to make it to the C-Pool in 1993. Their opponents was Israel and Turkey. Greece were the favorites to win it. They beat Turkey 10-2 but lost quite unexpectedly to Israel 8-2 as goalie Savas Adamidis had a dreadful game. The best player for Greece was probably Thanassis Kessidis who had 5 points (3+2) in the two games. The always reliable Georgios Adamidis also had 5 points (3+2). Klimis Efkarpidis, Kostas Lebessis and Ioannis Giatagantzidis all had 1+1. It was a huge disappointment to not qualify. The next year the Greek team didn't play any games.
After a one year layoff it was time for Greece to play in their second World Championship tournament. Once again the venue was South Africa. 12 of the players from 1992 were still on the team. The Greek players hadn't even trained because there was no ice available at home, except for 10-12 players who had practiced a little in the Czech Republic where they were born and raised. Actually 13 players on the squad were born and raised in the Czech Republic, three were born in Canada, one in the USA, one in Uzbekistan (former Soviet union), one in Romania and only one player was born in Greece, the backup goalie Georgios Katsandris. In the first game Greece played against the much more experienced Belgium. About 300 wild Greek fans cheered the team on. Belgium was a much better team and outshot Greece 88-18, but the little Czech-born goalie Savas Adamidis fought heroically in goal. He had virtually no help at all from his players, many of them hadn't been on ice for two years. He made one spectacular save after another. The game ended in a surprising 5-5 draw.
The Greek players celebrated like they had won the tournament, this was undoubtedly their biggest scalp ever. The Greek national anthem was played three times after the game and it took over an hour before the arena was emptied. The Greek fans and players were delirious. It was indeed a marvelous feat considering the fact that half the team hadn't practiced on ice for two years. Greece quickly got a reality check though. They lost 21-1 to Spain, 10-2 to Australia and 20-1 to Lithuania. They finished last in their group and played against New Zealand to avoid last place, it was a game that Greece won 10-7. All this time the Greek team had enormous support from their Greek fans who lived in Johannesburg. Once again the best scorers on the Greek team were the same as three years earlier: Canadian born center Dimitrios Malamas had 9 points (6+3) in 5 games and Czech born Georgios Adamidis (the goalies brother) also had 9 points (1+8) in 5 games. Another Canadian born (Montréal) player, Dimitrios Kalyvas played very well, collecting 6 points (3+3) despite being a defenseman. The most well known Greek player was probably Marius Konstantinidis who played many years in the Czech and Slovak league for Slovan Bratislava among other clubs. He had 4 points in the tournament (3+1) in 5 games.
Greece was forced to play in a qualification tournament along with Israel and Turkey in 1996. The Israeli city of Metulla played host to the event. Greece surprised the home team Israel by beating them 4-1 and then went on to beat Turkey 19-0. Greece won the group and qualified for the D-Pool, or at least that's what people thought. Unfortunately for Greece they were disqualified because they had used ineligible players (IIHF By-Law 204.7 B). They had Canadian born players on the team who weren't allowed to play. Second-placed Israel qualified in Greece's place.
The 1998 D Pool was the third World Championship tournament for the Greeks and it was again played in South Africa. Greece intended to bring in 10 Canadian born players on the team but they were ruled ineligible to play for Greece. So the final team wasn't selected until only three days prior to their departure to South Africa. Only four players were left from the 1995 team. This time they played in the same group as Israel, South Africa and Belgium. They lost to Israel 16-2, Belgium 14-2 and South Africa 11-2. In the game against Belgium it was very hot outside (as it was every day) and the ice was soft and wet. 300 wild Greek fans showed up The Greek players tried to rough it up and payed dearly by yielding five goals in the first period. They yielded another six in the second and not until the third and last period did they start to play some descent hockey, only losing the last period 3-2. Despite yielding 14 goals the goalie Georgios Fiotakis was probably the best player. Orestis Tilios (born in Frydek-Mistek,Czech Republic) was the top scorer on the Greek team, he collected 6 points (6+0) in 5 games. He was also one of only two players left from the first ever Greek team back in 1991. The captain from Montréal, Dimitrios Kalyvas once again played as a defenseman despite being a forward normally. He was the other player left from the original 1991 team. Kalyvas was a spark for his team, playing very well and finished with 5 points (3+2) in 5 games. Tough Ioannis "John" Ermidis also got 5 points (2+3) in 5 games and collected a tournament high 47 penalty minutes. Goalie Georgios Fiotakis also had a pretty good tournament overall although he had a 11.45 GAA. Mirel Dumitrache the Romanian, was still coaching the Greek team.
South Africa was the host yet again for the 1999 D Pool. Greece was place in a preliminary group with New Zealand and Spain. A modest 6-0 defeat to the Spaniards was followed up by a disappointing 3-1 loss to New Zealand. Greece was then placed in the consolation round, where they defeated Iceland 8-6 and lost to Turkey 3-1. All three teams finished with the same record, and the Greeks avoided last place by virtue of having a better goal differential than Iceland (9-9 vs 9-10).
After this tournament the Greek national team was inactive until 2008 (they had been ineligible to participate after the closure of the ice rink in 2000), when Dimitris Kalyvas tried to convince the IIHF that the national team is still active and that development of the sport was continuing in Greece despite not having a rink at the time. He later got the support of the Hellenic Ice Sports Federation. After many emails, the IIHF decided to send two delegates to Athens to investigate. After a review done by the IIHF in 2008, Greece retained its status within the IIHF, and took part in a qualification tournament against Armenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo prior to the 2008 Division III championship in Luxembourg. They defeated both teams, beating Armenia 8 – 5 (although Armenia was forced to Forfeit each game 5 – 0), and Bosnia-Herzegovina 10 – 1. They took part in Division III from 2008 until 2013, highlighted by a second-place finish in their group (third overall) in 2010.
Unfortunately Greece was again barred from participating in the World Championships after 2013 for not meeting new guidelines enacted by the IIHF as part of its Minimum Participation Standards. One of the main criteria was that each country was required to have "at least one operational, international-size indoor ice rink". The two small rinks in Athens and Thessaloniki did not meet these standards, so Greece was ineligible to play internationally. This was a highly unfortunate development that basically killed interest and enthusiasm in Greek hockey.
Some of the best Greek players over the years have been the both Adamidis brothers, goalie Savas and his brother Georgios (born in Ostrava, Czech Republic), another one has been Dimitri Malamas (born in Powell River, Canada), Dimitrios Kalyvas (born in Montréal, Canada), Christian Vassiou (born in Galati, Romania), the Tilios brothers Ioannis and Orestis (born in Frydek-Mistek and Krnov, Czech Republic), Pavlos Kapagianidis (born in Karvina, Czech Republic), another brother duo, the Efkarpidis brothers Klimis and Panagiotis (born in Prague and Krnov, Czech Republic). Also Prague born Marius Konstantinidis who played many years in the Czech and Slovak leagues should be mentioned. The Romanian coach and player in the Greek league Mirel Dumitrache also belongs at the top.
The junior national team made its international debut with in Belgrade at the 1991 U20 C Pool tournament. The poor Greeks were outscored 158-4 in the seven games that they played. The goalies Kostas Sirigos and Harilaos Stratakos faced 440 shots in the seven games. Vasilios Karpetas scored three of the four goals for Greece and Dimitrios Kalyvas had the other one. They won the Fair Play Cup though.
The next year in January 1992 Greece entered the World Junior Championships (under 20) in Rome and Marino (Italy). In some of the games Canadian born Dimitrios Kalyvas and Czech born Ioannis Ziakas played defense for the entire 60 minutes without changing a single time, a truly heroic effort and something of a physical ultra marathon. Unfortunately Greece was later disqualified when it was learned that they had used a 13-year old player in a game. The directorate refused to register the young player but the Greek team ignored this and used the player in a game against Romania without entering his name on the team list. Greece were quickly fined 6000 Swiss Franc and both the manager and coach got a six month suspension from all international hockey and got an additional one year suspension on probation.
The Greek junior team entered the 1996 IIHF European U18 Championship in Sofia (Bulgaria) but had less players on its roster than the minimum requirement. The IIHF told Greece that if they would manage to have a complete roster they wouldn't get disqualified and the games that they would play with less players would be counted as losses. So basically, every game where Greece could field a full squad the games would count. The only game where Greece had a full squad was in the winning game vs Turkey (7-5). The other games were vs Yugoslavia (a 14-0 loss) and Israel (a 5-0 defeat).
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on this country.