Hockey in Lithuania was developed from the traditional game of bandy, as it was in most other European countries. The first ice hockey activity in Lithuania took place in the 1920s. Teams were formed in the cities of Kaunas and Memel (now Klaipeda) and the first national championship was held in 1926. LFLS Kaunas won Lithuania's first title. After the country became a part of the Soviet Union, Spartak Kaunus (later Zalgiris Kaunas) played in either the first or second division of the Soviet league. After 1955, the team played only in the Lithuanian Republican Championship.
The Lietuvos Ledo Ritulio Federacija (Lithuanian Ice Hockey Federation) was founded on October 14, 1932 and Lithuania joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1932. It was expelled on April 26, 1946 after becoming a part of the Soviet Union following World War II. The newly independent Lithuania had its hockey federation reinstated in 1991 and rejoined the IIHF on May 6, 1992.
The Lithuanian National Team played its first international game on February 27, 1932, a 3-0 loss to Latvia. Lithuania debuted at the World Championships in Prague in 1938 and beat Romania 1-0 for its only victory. The country played its last international game in Kaunus in 1941 and suffered a 3-0 loss to Estonia. The Lithuanians returned to the world stage in 1995 at the "C" Pool, Group 2 World Championships where they finished 11th and were relegated to "D" Pool. The following year they hosted and won the "D" Pool tournament to earn promtion to "C" Pool. Lithuania finished eighth in 1997 but improved to the bronze medal position in 1998, a finish they duplicated in 1999 before slipping to the sixth in 2000. Two Lithuanian players -- Darius Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus -- are currently playing in the NHL. They both made significant impacts in the NHL after being first round draft choices of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers respectively. Zubrus enjoyed a breakout season in 1999-2000 finishing second in scoring for the Montreal Canadiens, who acquired his services in 1999.