With the whole hockey world focused on the Czech Republic right now, the IIHF has announced that Turkmenistan has been admitted as an associate member, becoming the 74th official member of the federation.
Not known for it’s hockey heritage, Turkmenistan has had some activity over the past few years. The country has three indoor ice rinks, with the biggest one, the Winter Sports Palace, holding 10,000 people. The national team has played just a single game to date, a big 7-2 victory over Minsk City back in 2013.
There has been some efforts to get the team running over the past few years. Turkmenistan has an eight-team league, with HC Galkan becoming the first MIA Hockey Cup champions. The second season is currently underway, with less than a month until the final game is set to take place.
Since 2003, Turkmenistan has hosted an eight team tournament, with teams ranging from Russian junior teams to homegrown squads. The 2013 tournament is mostly known for the 60-0 beating the St. Petersburg Silver Lions put on against the United Arab Emirates, one of the bigger deficits in recent tournament action.
While the country still has no participation from women, Turkmenistan does have a solid foundation to build from on the men’s side. They currently have 182 players registered in the country, split between 62 men and 120 junior players.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Belarussian Ice Hockey Federation had signed a developmental deal to help Turkmenistan build on their hockey program. As part of the deal, it’s expected that the two countries will work together to share information and hold training camps in the future.
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