World of Hockey
When you think of Spain you think of beaches, bullfighting and FC Barcelona, not hockey. But could Spain be making a move up in the hockey world?
Hockey has been played in Spain since the early 1900s, thanks to outdoor ice in the Pyrenee Mountains. By the 1920s Spain joined the IIHF and even hosted 1924 European Championships in Madrid. The first indoor ice rink was built in the 1930s.
Civil and World Wars contributed to hockey's disappearance in the country until the 1970s. Indoor rinks were built in San Sebastien and Barcelona, and the modern era of Spanish hockey began. The national team even escaped the dreaded "D pool" and qualified for the "C Pool" world championships in 1977, thanks largely to Spain's greatest player Antonio Capillas.
Nowadays the Spanish "Superliga" relies mostly on imports from other European countries, with the most famous being Swedish Magic Man Kent Nilsson. The level of play is said to equal 2nd and 3rd tier club teams from around the rest of Europe. and has next to no junior development program.
But times are changing. In the upcoming World Junior Championships (Division II), Spain will ice 4 players who are excelling in more traditional countries. Alejandro Pedraz has been playing in Finland, while Pol González and goalkeeper Ignacio Martínez-Barona have been playing in Canadian high school leagues. The most promising player has to be 16 year old Carlos Quevedo who currently plays for Ilves Tampere in the highest U17 league in Finland.