Hockey has a long history in the Ukraine, dating back to 1912 when two teams from Kharkov (Gelferikh and Feniks) played a series of exhibition games. The real development of Ukrainian hockey, however, began in 1946 when the game began to catch on in the Soviet Union. Spartak Uzhgorod played games against Vodnik Arkhangelsk in the Dynamo soccer stadium in Kiev and the team was invited to participate in the first Soviet championship in 1946-47. Prior to World War II, Uzhgorod had been part of Czechoslovakia, a country with a long hockey heritage. Players from Uzhgorod had excellent equipment and could compete well against other Soviet clubs during the first championship.
The first Ukrainian Republican Championship took place in 1949 and was won by Lokomotiv Kharkov. In 1963, Dynamo Kiev (later Sokol Kiev) was created. It eventually became the best team in the Ukraine and participated in the top division of the Soviet League. In 1985, Sokol Kiev won the bronze medal in the Soviet Championship. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Sokol Kiev played in the Inter-State Hockey League. They won the first Ukrainian national championship in 1992 as well as in 1993, 1995 and 1997. Dynamo Charkow also competed in the Soviet league. Since 1996, Sokol Kiev has played in the East European Hockey League along with Ldinka Kiev of the Ukraine and teams from Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Other significant Ukrainian club teams have been the 1994 champions, Masters Club Kiev, Olympic Reserves Kiev and Atek Kiev.
Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Federatsiya Hokkey Ukrainy (Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation) was part of the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation. It became an independent federation in 1992 and joined the International Ice Hockey Federation on May 6 of that year. The Ukrainian National team had made its debut at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix on April 13, 1992, tying the Russian National B-Team 3-3. The Ukraine made its first appearance at the World Championships at the "C" Pool tournament in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996 the Ukrainians won either silver or bronze at this tournament. They captured the gold medal at the 1997 tournament in Estonia to earn promotion to "B" Pool. The following year the Ukraine continued its dramatic rise by winning the "B" Pool tourney in Slovenia. This triumph qualified them for the "A" Pool for the first time in their history.
The first Ukrainian player to reach the NHL was Alexander Godynyuk, who made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1990-91. Dimitri Khristich (Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto), Alexei Zhitnik (Los Angeles, Buffalo), and Oleg Tverdovsky (Anaheim, Phoenix) are also Ukrainians in the NHL. The names Kulabuchow, Stepanischtschew, Schastin and Juldaschow figured prominently on the national team. Juldasschow finished third in the 1992-93 Swiss Elite League scoring race as a member of Biel.