As in so many European nations, hockey in Estonia developed out of the game of bandy which was being played in Tallinn prior to World War I. By the 1930s, there were many hockey clubs in Estonia, with most of the teams concentrated in Revel (now Tallinn) and the university town of Dorpat (now Tartu). The first national championship took place in 1934 and was won by Kalev Tallinn. Later, Kalev, the Tartu academic sport club, and Sport Tallinn dominated competition in Estonia.
The Eesti Jaahoki Federatsiooni (Estonian Ice Hockey Federation) was founded in 1921 when Estonia was an independent country and was re-founded in 1991 as a part of the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation. Estonia originally joined the International Ice Hockey Federation on February 17, 1937 but was removed following World War II on April 27, 1946. During this time, Estonia never sent its National Team to the World and European Championships and restricted its play to exhibition games against other Baltic countries and Finland. Estonia was represented at the Prague World Championships in 1938 by referee Raoul Saue.
The Estonian National Team played its first game on February 20, 1937, losing 2-1 to Finland in Helsinki. Estonia won the second game of the series 2-1, but dropped the final game 9-1. The country's last international game was a 3-0 victory over Lithuania in February of 1941. The most famous Estonian player in pre-War Europe was a 6'7" giant known as Tipner, who later became well-known as a soccer goalkeeper. Another internationally known Estonian player was Juha Sevo who played for the HC Augsburg team in Germany after World War II. After becoming part of the Soviet Union, the best Estonian club (Dynamo Tallinn) played in the top division of the Soviet league from 1946 to 1953. After 1955, Dynamo Tallinn played only for the Estonian Republic Championship.
The newly independent nation of Estonia again became a member of the IIHF on May 6, 1992 and played in the "C" Pool, Group 2 World Championship in 1994. The Estonians routed South Korea, Belgium, South Africa, Spain and Croatia to move up to the higher bracket of the "C" Pool level. They won the bronze medal as hosts of the 1997 "C" Pool tournament. Then won the bronze again the following year. The top domestic teams over the years have been Keemik Kohtla-Jarve, Kreenholm Narva, Dunamo Tallin and Kalev Tallinn. In 1997 the Valk-494 Tartu club became the first team outside the "Big Four" to win the Estonian championship.