Ice Hockey in Lithuania: Popularity, History, Teams | True Lithuania
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Ice Hockey in Lithuania

Older Lithuanians remember how popular ice hockey was in the Soviet Union and what a following the Soviet-Canadian matches used to attract. However, while the Soviet basketball team was dominated by ethnic Lithuanians, Lithuania had only two recent successful hockey players, both of whom joined NHL in the 1990s. These are Darius Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus, both from a town of Elektrėnai, where the only more successful Lithuanian ice hockey team “Elektrėnų energija” is also based.

Two players are far too few to make a strong national team. To make matters even worse Darius Kasparaitis opted for Russian citizenship after the Soviet Union collapsed. He represented Russia ever since. Lithuanian ice hockey team thus never even qualified to the main division. Unlike the neighboring Belarus, where ice hockey is immensely popular. Due to this “Elektrėnų energija” team long played in the Belarusian second league, before retreating from the professional sports altogether.

Lithuanian ice hockey league exists but it is amateur and lacks attention. The only time hockey attracts attention is when the national team plays, even in those times the attention being far behind that of basketball and football.

Elektrėnų energija listens to Lithuanian and Belarusian anthems before a game. As they play in a league where every opponent team is foreign, this is a common procedure. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. I’m looking for game-worn Lithuanian hockey jerseys.

  2. This article is a total BS! Older Lithuanians, especially in Kaunas still remember how popular ice hockey was in Lithuania before the Russian occupation. We had a National League with two divisions even (L and A). Marijampolė, Kybartai, Vilkaviškis, Raseiniai, Šiauliai,.. and in 1940 Vilnius has their ice hockey teams. Panevėžys alone has 7!

    after Soviets occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, after the WW2, some still left alive and not fled to the Free World former Ice Hockey players and coaches of two occupied Brother Baltic States – Latvia and especially Lithuania had only two choices left – to teach Russians how to play Ice Hockey well, or to go to GULAG…

    When the second of Two Friends and Brothers in Arms with the moustaches finally died, those Lithuanian sportsmen who had no choices at all, started to return from the Siberian GULAG. They met their old friends from the times of Freedom who survived the war and Genocide. And they use to talk still quite brave and openly (to speak or write about it – how Lithuanians have taught Russians how to play Ice Hockey – publicly was strictly prohibited by the Russian KGB in occupied Lithuania). So only in the private kitchens and sometimes in the pubs of Kaunas they use to talk about what great and popular Ice Hockey we used to have when we were 3 Free Baltic countries and that occupants Russians have to be very thankful to their first Ice Hockey teachers by force – Latvians and especially Lithuanians.

    This old generation of Latvian and Lithuanian players and coaches unfortunately passed already, but thanks to God and those who died for the Freedom, they had some years of Free speech and Free press in Lithuania to share they memories openly. So we have some authentic testimonies left (about how occupied Lithuanians taught occupants how to play Ice Hockey in 1946-1949)… After this major Lithuanian impact, Russians went to the World Championships in Stockholm, in 1954 only.

    But you can’t find any Lithuanian or Latvian name mentioned in the official history of Russian ice hockey 1946-1954, because Lithuanians were their Teachers by force. This is a shame for them.

    • Can you tell me where I can find information about these hockey players/coaches? I will regularly visit Kaunas starting in August 2022.

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