The Portuguese International Hockey Team (1996-2006) is the national men's ice hockey team of Portugal. It has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) since May 13, 1999. Portugal is currently not ranked in the IIHF World Ranking and is not actively competing in any IIHF World Championship events.
Ice hockey was played in Portugal from 1996 until 2006 in the Palácio do Gelo shopping center, in Viseu. The ice rink has since closed down, leaving ice hockey and figure skating out in the cold.
In 2000, The national team of Portugal played three games, the only games they ever played. The team they compiled to play was made up of former Portuguese emigrants who played ice hockey in the United States and Canada, as well as former players from traditional roller hockey. The event consisted of three games between the newly created national team of Portugal and the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Center from Toronto, Ontario, representing Canada. The games were held on June 21, 22, and 23 of 2000 at the Palácio do Gelo in Viseu, offering the opportunity to join the international community's of ice hockey.
Ice hockey is the national sport of Canada and is also played by many members of the Portuguese-Canadian community. The main goals of the tournament between Canada and Portugal were to:
- Raise the profile of this new sport in Portugal through extensive coverage by the media, given the uniqueness of the event;
- Capture the attention of the Portuguese-Canadian community throughout Canada;
- Raise the sense of competitiveness and also to attract new players to the sport of ice hockey;
- Strengthen the relations between Portugal and Canada by building new bridges of connection through ice hockey.
The tournament was a joint venture by the Federação Portuguesa de Desportos No Gelo and the Embassy of Canada, namely the Ambassador of Canada, Robert Vanderloo. The event was also sponsored by Banco Comercial Português and Nortel.
Not surprisingly, there was an expected gap between the two teams. Canada showed its technical and physical superiority from the first moment of puck drop. In the first two games, the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Center won 18–6 in the first game and 21–5 in the second. Pedro Regado was the first ever player to score for Portugal and he accomplished this feat at the 8:04 mark of the first period. The third and final game was played with the decision to mix-up the teams, giving Portuguese descendants of the FPCCC to wear the Portuguese jersey and provide a unique opportunity for the Portuguese players to play on the same team with players of high level. At the end of the third match, the score was a close 15–11 for FPCCC.
Portugal has not played an organized match ever since.
It has been rumoured that the national team may possibly return. This is due to the popularity that ice hockey has gaining since NHL it's broadcasted on SportTV. There are reports of Portugal's plans to build a permanent ice hockey arena in Lisbon. This could potentially open up league possibilities with teams like SL Benfica, Sporting CP, CF Os Belenenses, and possibly Atlético Lisboa, teams that play in the heart of Lisbon's entertainment. Finding players shouldn't be an issue, since hockey is a growing fad in Portugal, with Portuguese players playing hockey in other countries like in Switzerland, and Portuguese decent players that could play on the international team like Mike Ribeiro and John Tavares (prestigious players in the National Hockey League. Only time will tell if my dream will come true.