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  Brazil     Updated: Fenruary 10, 2008 
  Population 183,888,841 Indoor -- Total N/A Male N/A
  Capital Brasilia Outdoor -- Male N/A Female N/A
  IIHF Since June 26,1984     Junior N/A    
            Female N/A    

This beautiful country of the three S's; Samba, Soccer and Sun...
Soccer (football) will always remain the number one passion for the Brazilians. The country stands still whenever the national team plays a game. They close the stockmarket, people don't go to work just so they can see their heroes play. The marvellous artistry of players like Pelé,Didi,Vavá,Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaká have captivated soccer fans around the world for decades. In Brazil you live and die for soccer. But what about Ice hockey ?

Before ice hockey made it’s way into Brazil,  Roller hockey had been played there for many years. Children of wealthy Brazilian coffee barons studied in Europe and introduced roller hockey to Brazil. The game was played at “Rink Columbia” for a while. In 1913 the first clubs emerged in São Paulo and played at the “Skating Palace”. There a league was formed named, “Liga Paulista de Hóquei”, with “Skating Hockey Clube” emerging as the first winners. In 1915 the Argentinian national team came to São Paulo and played three games against local clubs. As roller hockey continued to grow there still wasn’t any ice hockey played in the country.

Not until 1968 was there any ice hockey played in Brazil. The first games were played in Petropolis, one hour from Rio de Janeiro. The venue was the elegant hotel and casino, Quitandinha that had a built in ice rink. There was also an ice rink in São Paulo at that time. It was a tiny rink that was only open during the winter months in Campos do Jordão,a city located in the mountains of São Paulo. They didn't have a team though.


The driving force of ice hockey in Brazil was a German businessman named Erwin Dietenhofer.
He bought and sold gems in South America. Dietenhofer was also the president of the Brazilian Ice Sports Union until 1992 when he died from a snake-bite at the age of 72.
He moved to Brazil from Germany in the 1950's where he once had played Ice hockey for SC Riessersee. He wanted to keep his hobby "alive" in Brazil so he arranged trainings and ice time for people who wanted to try it out. Most of the folks from the early 70's and 80's who played and practiced hockey were European emigrants but also a fair amount of Brazilians played the game. When Holiday on Ice visited Brazil in 1978, the game was resurrected again briefly.

After Dietenhofer’s passing the game died out. Today there is only sporadic ice hockey activities in Brazil,but they pay their membership fee annually to the IIHF.

Some of the early clubs that were active in Brazil included:
Rio Ice Hockey Club (Rio de Janeiro), São Paulo Pandas Ice Hockey Club, HC Minas Gerais, HC Belo Horizonte and HC Petropolis.

Armenian Hockey Team

Quitandinha hotel, the venue of the first ice hockey played in Brazil during the late 1960’s

The São Paulo,Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte clubs were the most longlived Brazilian teams. They played exhibition games against each other but the distance between the two teams (over 600 km (375 miles)  made it difficult to meet at a regular basis. The most successful team in the 1980's was without a doubt the São Paulo Pandas (Black, Red, White). The club was founded late in 1980 by a 21-year old Brazilian engineering student named Claudio Bock. The team was mostly made up by Brazilians and they played  three vs three without goalies at a tiny ice rink (14x12m) in the Santo Amaro neighbourhood. One of their prominent players and coach was then 17-year old Ronald Calhau who joined the Pandas in the summer of 1981 after having returned from studies in the USA. He was later a three time figure skating champ of  Brazil and the vice president of the Portuguese ice and inline hockey Association. Calhau also helped forming the Gladiadores do Rio De Janeiro (Blue, Red and White) in 1981, when he spent a month in Rio de Janeiro. He did it together with Japanese Yoshio Nagasaki and American Andrew Lawrence who had lived in Brazil since 1961. The team also had a Scandinavian, plus local players. In Rio the rink was 40x20m. The São Paulo club came over and the two teams played a series of exhibition games against each other. The São Paulo club was much better in the beginning. No championship was ever held in Brazil though. Both Nagasaki and Lawrence started a hockey school in Rio. The team got better and a year later or so they played evenly with the Pandas. The two teams met a couple of times each year, usually in front of a lot of curious spectators.

Not until 1983 were there enough active players for any real games. At it's peak Brazil had five senior teams and five junior teams with over 300 registered players. The best clubs were the São Paulo Pandas and CCEG Rio de Janeiro. None of the rinks in Brazil were full sized.

Another ice hockey club that Calhau was a co-founder of was, Clube Paulistano de Esportes no Gelo. They were from São Paulo and had both hockey and figure skating. Calhau served as the vice president of the club. Another club was formed in Belo Horizonte (Orange and Black) 1984

During the 1983-84 season a larger rink opened in the “Morumbi Shopping Center”, also in São Paulo. But the new rink did not have any boards, so the players made their own removable wooden boards that they had to mount for every practice. They also needed a special insurance because of all the flying pucks that broke the windows of the stores around the rink, needless to say that the hockey players weren’t too popular among the store owners. Of course there were no dressing rooms so the players had to change in the shopping mall toilets or at home. The practices during weekdays were always held late in the evening, beginning at 22:00 or 23:00. During the weekends they had them early in the morning. Equipment was also a problem, many of the players made their own hockey sticks as well as protective gear.

To say that the players back then had to overcome a lot of obstacles is almost an understatement. When the players said that they played ice hockey, the reaction from people usually was, “What is Ice Hockey, do you mean real ice ?”

In 1985 there were four rinks in the country.
One in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Riberao Preta and Brasilia. There also were moveable ice rinks in Petropolis, Recife and Belo Horisonte. In 1987 the first "real" rink was about to be built in Petropolis (about 60 km (37 miles) north of Rio), but it was never finished. Most of the rinks were squeezed into supermarkets and weren't available until after closing time at around eleven p.m.

In 1986 the Gladiadores do Rio de Janeiro club was renamed by Nagasaki and Lawrence to Rio Ice Hockey. At its peak the club had over 100 players, divided into “A” , “B”, “C” –teams etc,etc.  The Rio club still played anually against São Paulo.

Rio Ice Hockey players (in the 1980’s):

# 1  Douglas Mile Jones
# 2  Yoshio Nagasaki
# 6  Ricardo Laka
# 7  Cezar Augusto “Guto” Palhares
# 9  Geraldo “Gê” Cardoso
#77 Maurice “Mo-Mo” Steiger
#78 Mauricio “Mau” Mile Jones
      Andrew “St. André” Lawrence
      Daniel Lawrence
      Jean Paulo
      Luiz Pires

In 1990 Geraldo ‘Gê’ Cardoso, an 18-year old student and former player for Rio Ice Hockey, moved to Canada to study and play hockey. He played junior hockey until an unfortunate shoulder injury. When he returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1993 he discovered that neither the rink or the Rio Ice Hockey club existed anymore, in fact, no ice hockey existed at all in Brazil at the time. So in 1994 he formed the “Mad Parrots” inline hockey team with his friend Maurice Steiger. At the same time this group played recreational ice hockey once a week at the Shopping center in Barra de Tijuca. As of 2008, Cardoso was still running an ice hockey school at the shopping center.

Plans of a training center that would include an ice-rink with a capacity of 2,000 in attendance was announced in 2006. The facility would be built in Campos do Jordao.

2007 there were small ice rinks in shopping centers around Brazil. Several in Sao Paulo and also in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and other places.

NHL have actually had two Brazilian born players. Colored goalie Michael Greenlay who was born in Vitória (about 400 km (250 miles) North East of Rio) played two games as a 21-year old for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1989-90 season. He played for only 20 minutes and gave up 4 goals for a GAA of 12,00. Greenlay played minor league hockey for many years in Canada. The other one who have played with some success is Robyn Regehr who was born in Recife where his parents worked as missionairies. The Regehrs then moved to Indonesia and Canada. He’s represented Canada both in the World Championships and Olympic Games.