100 years ago today, Romania joined the IIHF
by Andrew PODNIEKS|24 JAN 2024
Doru Tureanu was represented by Barna Tanczos, president of Romanian Ice Hockey Federation, at his induction into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2011.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Jukka Rautio
It was at the 11th annual IIHF Congress in Chamonix, France, on 24 January 1924 that the IIHF admitted two new members—Romania and Italy. They became the 13th and 14th nations to join the burgeoning organization whose goal was to unify and codify the game across Europe, and to bring countries from around the world under one international umbrella.


Although Romania joined the IIHF in 1924, it wasn’t until the 1931 Men’s World Championship that the nation participated in an IIHF event. Even in the 1920s they didn’t play at the European Championships. In 1931, they lost all five games, but Alexandru Botez goes into the history books as the player to score their first goal. They lost their first two games by shutout, and lost their third, 7-1, to France, but Botez got the historic goal early in the third period. They got their first ever win two years later when they defeated Belgium, 3-2, in the placement round, and they also played at the 1935, ‘37, and ‘38 Worlds before the war.
Romania played at the 1947 Worlds, the first post-war tournament, but didn’t play again until 1961. Since then they have been mainstays in IIHF competition at the Men’s Worlds, but only once, 1977, did they play in the top level. In 1976, they finished atop the B Pool standings, but a year later they won only one of ten games and were demoted. They have yet to return to the top level, but there have been some close calls. They played in Division I-A in 2003 and then both 2022 and 2023, but in each case they finished fifth and couldn’t earn that coveted promotion.
At the junior level, they have been active participants, playing in the U20 annually since 1983 and the U18 since 2001. The women’s side has been a tougher program for Romania as skaters have been difficult to recruit and grassroots level programs hard to come by. They have played at the lower levels of the Women’s Worlds intermittently since 2003 and have twice tried to qualify at the WW18 level, in 2016, and 2017, both unsuccessfully.

Biggest Games

As a starting point, Romania’s only win at the top level of the World Championship since 1947 surely ranks as one of their greatest victories. On 5 May, 1977, they defeated the United States, 5-4, in a Relegation Round game thanks to the great play of the aformentioned Tureanu and Varga. Romania led 1-0 after the first but exploded with four goals in the second, then withstood a furious American comeback that fell one goal short. Varga had a goal and two assists and Tureanu had two goals.
At the 1976 Olympics, Romania finished first in the Consolation Round group, winning four of five games, including 3-1 over Japan and 4-3 over Austria, the teams that finished tied for second behind them. In 1980, one of their greatest wins was a 6-4 triumph over West Germany, a win keyed by three unanswered goals in the final period, two from Tureanu to complete his hat trick.
More recently, Division I-B of the Men’s Worlds in 2019 provided the backdrop for more Romanian celebrations. In that tournament, Romania and Poland tied for first place, but a 3-2 overtime win by Romania midway through the event gave them top spot. The hero was Pavlo Borysenko, a 32-year-old who was born in Ukraine and playing his first tournament with his adopted homeland after having played the U18 for Ukraine in 2002.

Hall of Famers

From 1963 to 1977 Eduard Pana played every international tournament for his country. That included three Olympic Games between 1964 and 1976, the lone top-level Worlds tournament in 1977, and 13 lower level Men’s Worlds. His father, also Eduard Pana, had played at the 1947 World Championship. Eduard, Jr. was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2011, Pana was joined among the pantheon of greats by Doru Tureanu, who had been a teammate with Pana at the 1976 Olympics and the Men’s Worlds the next year. Tureanu also played at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, and in only ten Olympic games he had an impressive 10 goals and 17 points playing against the world’s best. In all, he played at 15 Men’s Worlds in three levels (A, B, C Pools).
A third member of that 1977 team will be given the Torriani Award in Prague this May at the World Championship. Dezsideriu “Dezso” Varga also enjoyed a long career with Romania, and these three players form the core of the team’s greatest successes.

2023-24 Season

The men’s team will play in the World Championship Division I-A in Bolzano starting in April, while the senior women’s team will play in III-A in Zagreb, Croatia, in March. The U20 team won first place in II-B and will play in II-A next year. At the U18 level, the men will play in II-A in April but the women’s U18 program has been dormant since 2017 because of a lack of players.

By the Numbers

Biggest win—9-4 vs. Bulgaria, 11 February 1976, Olympics
Biggest loss—23-1 vs. Czechoslovakia, 15 February 1947, Men’s World Championship
World Ranking, Men— high 23 (2023), low 29 (three times)
World Ranking, Women—high 25 (2004), low 40 (2022, 2023)