Romanian ice hockey to celebrate its centennial on Little Union Day

The Romanian Ice Hockey Federation celebrates its 100th anniversary precisely on Little Union Day, on January 24, marking 100 years since it received its “birth certificate” following its joining the International Ice Hockey League, where it was represented by the Central Winter Sports Committee of that time.

Former great hockey player Eduard Pana declared in an interview for AGERPRES that in the century since Romania’s joining the International Ice Hockey League, the athletes and technicians have extensively done their duty, considering the state’s insignificant investments in the necessary infrastructure.

Pana, a 1998 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, where he was joined only by fellow national Doru Tureanu in 2010, made a review of the past 100 years, highlighting several iconic hockey players whose efforts allowed Romania’s participation in four editions of the Winter Olympic Games, despite an almost non-existent infrastructure.

Pana also dwelled on the pioneering period of Romanian hockey when players like Mihai Flamaropol or his father – Eduard Pana Sr., could practice other sports at a high level, such as rugby, football or athletics.

As far as he is concerned, Eduard Pana started playing hockey “on the frozen brook”, on natural frozen water bodies, just like most Romanian players back in the day. He also pointed out that in the absence of artificial ice rinks, there were times when hockey was played at night on natural ice surfaces, to benefit from the lower temperatures.

The former hockey glory also made a comparison between the investments made by the Romanian state in team and individual sports.
“Unfortunately, the state’s investment in ice hockey is almost nil, I don’t know what kind of policy this was. Because there have been investments in individual sports. If you invest in an individual athlete, it works somehow, but if you invest 100 million in a rugby or hockey team, in a squad of 30, it almost goes unnoticed,” Pana said.

He attributes the exceptional results obtained in the past by Romanian hockey to the passion of the athletes who managed to beat the representatives of countries that enjoyed much better training conditions.

Pana also commented on the legal “disputes” of the two domestic camps, specifying that there have always been sporting rivalries between Romanians and Hungarian ethnics, but not enmity: “There’s a great difference between being an enemy and being an opponent.”

Eduard Pana, now aged 79, is one of the iconic players of Romanian and European hockey, having three editions of the Winter Olympics and 11 World Championship tournaments under his belt. After finally hanging up his skates, he served as general secretary of the Romanian Ice Hockey Federation.

In the 100 years since the foundation of the federation, Romanian hockey has experienced truly exceptional periods, with the participation in four editions of the Winter Olympic Games, where Team Romania made it twice (in 1976 and 1980) to the world’s top ten ranking. Moreover, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Romanian ice hockey team won historic matches against top opponents (such as the memorable 5-4 victory against the U.S. team in 1977, or the 6-4 win against Germany in 1980).