Ice hockey has a long history in Poland. Two hockey teams (Polonia and AZS) were formed in Warsaw in 1922 , playing their first game (a 3-0 win by AZS) on February 17 of that year. Students at the Warsaw Academic Sports Union (AZS) were soon actively promoting the game, but hockey in Poland did not really begin to advance until 1924 when Canadian immigrant Wilhelm Rybak began demonstrating the skills of the game.
Four clubs in Warsaw established the Polski Zwiazek Hokeja na Lodzie (the Polish Ice Hockey Union) in January of 1925. The PZHL joined the International Ice Hockey Federation on January 11, 1926. Six teams participated in the first Polish national championship in 1927. AZS Warsaw won the first five national championships. In 1931, an outdoor hockey arena was built in Katowice.
Poland first participated in international tournaments in 1926 and has been entering the World Championships ever since. Polish hockey flourished during the late 1920s and early 1930s with the National Team bolstered by the use of Polish-Canadians who had returned to their native country. Among these players was Polish National Team captain Tadeusz Adamowski. Brothers Adam and Aleksander Kowalski also returned from Canada and were among the best players in Europe prior to World War II. Aleksander Kowalski lost his life in the War, as did goaltender Jozef Stogowski who had participated in 11 World and European Championships for Poland. A hockey rink in his hometown of Kopernik bears his name in tribute. The top player to be developed thus far by the Polish National Program is right winger Mariusz Czerkawski. After representing Poland at the World Junior and Senior Championships; as well as the Olympics; Czerkawski made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins. He began to show his promise after a trade to the Edmonton Oilers where he scored 26 goals in 1996-97. It took another trade for him to fully prosper. As a member fo the New York Islanders, Mariusz became a bonafide NHL star scoring 35 goals and leading the Islanders in scoring with 70 points in 1999-00.
Polish hockey was slow to recover after World War II, but the sport slowly began to take root again. The construction of the country's first indoor artificial ice rinks in the early 1950s helped rekindle the game. The national team played at the World Championships "A" Pool level in the 1950's but slipped to "B" Pool in 1961. Since that time Poland has alternated between these two levels of play. They have not achieved anything extraordinary at the Olympics but did manage a fourth place finish in 1932 and four sixth place finishes between 1948 and 1976.
During the 1960's, the Legia Warsaw and GKS Katowice clubs dominated the national league. In 1966 Podhale Nowy Targ won their first championship and continued their strong performances into the late 1990's. Polonia Bytom was another successful outfit with six titles from 1984 to 1991.