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
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.