The history of ice hockey in the Netherlands can be traced all the way back to the 16th century. Artists from that period depicted people playing "hockey" on frozen ponds with sticks and a ball. These pictures are the oldest in Europe showing people playing with sticks. They lend support to the theory that bandy, as an early form of hockey, likely developed in the Netherlands. Despite this early start, hockey was not actually introduced in the Netherlands until the early 1930s. The country's first artificial ice rink was build in the Hague in 1937, though the first indoor arena did not appear until 1961 in Amsterdam.
The Nederlandse Ijshockey Bond (Dutch Ice Hockey Union) was founded on September 6, 1934 and the Netherlands joined the International Ice Hockey Federation on January 20, 1935. The best teams in the country began competing for a national championship in 1937, but no such championship was held from 1950 to 1963 because of a lack of teams. HIJC den Haag was the most successful club during this early period with four national titles. The decade of the 1960s saw Dutch clubs begin to invite players and coaches from Canada and the United States, with personnel from other European countries added later. HIJC Hockey de Haag won five straight championships from 1965 to 1969. The Tilburg Trappers, titlists in 1947, won six straight crowns from 1971 to 1976. This dynasty was followed by seven consecutive championships by Heerenveen Feenstra Flyers from 1977 to 1983. Since that time teams like Vissers Nijmegen, GIJS Groningen and Frentech Amsterdam have won the title.
The Dutch National Team made its debut on the international scene with a 4-0 loss to Belgium in Amsterdam on January 5, 1935. Two weeks later, the Netherlands made its first appearance at the World and European Championships in Davos, Switzerland. The Netherlands lost their first game 6-0 to Hungary on January 19, but went on to win the Fair Play Cup at the 1935 tournament. The Dutch made their initial Olympic appearance when they tied for ninth place out of twelve teams at the 1980 Lake Placid Games. Included on their roster was Dick Decloe who had won a Memorial Cup with the Toronto Marlboros in 1973. After playing chiefly in the "B" and "C" pools since the 1950's, the Dutch team returned to "A" Pool debut in 1981. Since that time the Netherlands' squad played mostly in the "B" Pool. In 1999 they were dropped to "C" Pool where they responded by capturing the gold.