Hockey in the Soviet Republic of Belorussia (now the independent country Belarus) became very popular right after World War II when ice hockey made its first inroads in the Soviet Union. In 1946, Torpedo Minsk (later Dynamo Minsk and now Tivali Minsk) was formed and began to play in the top Soviet division.
Federatsiya Hokkeya Belarusi (the Ice Hockey Federation of the Republic Belarus) became independent in 1992 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Belarus became a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation on May 6, 1992 and staged its first independent national championship in 1992-93. Dynamo Minsk won this title and finished 10th in the KHL of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The following season the club was renamed Tivali Minsk. They successfully defended their domestic title and finished 19th out of 24 teams in the KHL. The chief rivals of the Minsk club were Polimir Novopolotsk (Belarus champions in 1996 and 1997), Yunost Minsk and Neman Grodno. Since 1996, these teams have played in the East European Hockey League along with teams from the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and a team from Poland.
Belarus showcased its national team for the first time in November, 1992 when they hosted the Group 2 Qualification Tournament for the 1993 "C" Pool World Championships. The hosts beat Kazakhstan 3-1 but dropped a 4-1 decision to the Ukraine which relegated them to last place based on goal differential. Goalie Alexandre Gavrilenkok and forward Eduard Zankovets excelled for Belarus who were a team of relative unknowns chiefly from the Dynamo Minsk club. Belarus enjoyed a strong debut at the 1994 "C" Pool World Championships in Slovakia by defeating the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Hungary and Bulgaria to claim the silver medal. The following year they won the tourney to qualify for the "B" Pool level. The Belorussians completed their quick rise to "A" Pool by winning the 1997 "B" Pool engagement in Poland. The 1998 Nagano Olympics saw Belarus win their Preliminary Round group and lose a respectable 4-1 decision to eventual silver medalist Russia in the quarter finals.
Oleg Mikulchik (Winnipeg, Anaheim), Vladimir Tsyplakov (Los Angeles, Buffalo), and Ruslan Salei (Anaheim) are Belarus natives who have reached the NHL. Andrei Kovalev is under contract in the Washington Capitals organization.