Hockey began to develop in Belarus at the end of the 40s of the last century. Since the 1992/93 season, the national championship of Belarus has been held.
Since 2004, the Open (International) Championship of Belarus has been launched, in which, in addition to Belarusian clubs, teams from Latvia and Ukraine regularly took part.
Hockey is the best loved sport in Belarus. The open championship includes two leagues: the Extraleague (division I) and the Premier League (division II). Eleven teams (ten from Belarus and one from Latvia) play in the Extraleague, to determine the national champion.
The leading club is Dinamo-Minsk, which plays in the KHL, and hosts home games at Minsk-Arena: one of the largest ice rink venues in Europe. Over eleven seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (since 2008) Dinamo Minsk HC has taken part in play-offs four times.
Today, Dynamo Minsk does not even think about the fight for the Gagarin Cup, but there were times when the “white-blue” proved that they if not the strongest, then at least it deserves a place in the playoffs.
The national ice hockey team is a true favorite. Their first game was back in 1992, and qualified for the World Championship third division. In 1997, the team joined the elite division, in which it debuted at the 1998 World Championship. It has participated in thirteen world championships (1998-2001, 2003, and 2005–present) in the strongest division, seeing the greatest advance in 2006, in Riga, when the team was placed sixth.
The number of Belarusian players in the NHL is quite small – only 9 people played in the league.
Ruslan Salei is the highest-drafted Belarusian in the history of the NHL – 9 peak (in the 1994 draft). He played in Detroit, Colorado, Florida, but is most associated with Anaheim, where he spent 9 seasons.
The defender never played in the “All-Star Matches”, did not claim to “Norris Trophy”, but nevertheless in his assets – almost 1000 matches in the NHL. By the way, by the number of matches in the NHL, Salei is the leader among Belarusians.
Andrey and Sergey Kostitsyn, it is noteworthy that both brothers were drafted by Montreal. True, the elder Andrei had much higher expectations (10 draft 2003) than Sergei (200 draft 2005).
Andrey stayed longer in Montreal – 6.5 seasons, while Sergey only for 3 seasons. Yes, Andrei played brighter in Montreal – in the 2008/2009 season he scored 50 points. Sergei opposite to the “Canadiens” did not shine – has never mastered the milestone of 30 points.
Mikhail Grabovsky, as the most recognizable NHL player. At the moment, Grabovsky is the best sniper and scorer among his compatriots in the NHL.
The national team of Belarus took part at three Winter Olympics: in 1998, 2002 and 2010. Its greatest achievement was fourth place, at the Winter Olympiad in Salt Lake City. Defeating the national squad of Sweden in the quarterfinals, Belarus qualified for the semi-finals.
Following the results of the 2012 World Championship, the national team of Belarus was ranked eleventh in the IIHF world ratings.
Not only professional, but amateur ice hockey is advancing in Belarus. There is the amateur Night Hockey League (NHL) in Minsk, with all games held at night, and the Golden Puck nationwide ice hockey tournament, for children and teenagers.