Docs Menu

Ice Hockey Around the World

Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada, as well as the most popular winter sport in the United States, Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland. Due to the sport’s popularity, there are numerous professional leagues, junior tournaments, and international competitions throughout the world.

Professional Ice Hockey Leagues

While the National Hockey League (NHL) is the most well known and considered the highest level for men’s professional ice hockey, there are many professional leagues across the globe.

Alexander Romanov CSKA Moscow
Alexander Romanov, CSKA Moscow, 2018-19 KHL Regular Season (Photo by Sergei SavostyanovTASS via Getty Images)

Below are the leagues based on average attendance for the 2018-19 seasons

LeagueCountryNotesAverage Attendance
National Hockey League (NHL)Canada Canada (7 teams)
United States Flag United States (25 teams)
32 teams in 2021–22 season17,406
National League (NL)Switzerland Flag  Switzerland6,949
Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)Russia Flag Russia (19 teams)
Belarus Flag Belarus (1 team)
China Flag China (1 team)
Finland Finland (1 team)
Kazakhstan Flag Kazakhstan (1 team)
Latvia Flag Latvia (1 team)
Successor to Russian Superleague and Soviet Championship League6,397
Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL)Germany Flag Germany6,215
Swedish Hockey League (SHL)Swedish Flag SwedenKnown as Elitserien until 20135,936
American Hockey League (AHL)United States Flag United States (27 teams)
Canada Canada (4 teams)
Developmental league for NHL5,672
Czech ExtraligaCzech Hockey Czech RepublicFormed from the split of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League5,401
ECHLUnited States Flag United States (25 teams)
Canada Canada (2 teams)
Western Hockey League (WHL)Canada Canada (17 teams)
United States Flag United States (5 teams)
Junior league4,295
LiigaFinland FinlandOriginally SM-sarja from 1928 to 1975. Known as SM-Liiga from 1975 to 20134,232
Ontario Hockey League (OHL)Canada Canada (17 teams)
United States Flag United States (3 teams)
Junior league3,853
Champions Hockey LeagueEuropean Union Flag EuropeEurope-wide championship tournament league. Successor to European Trophy and Champions Hockey League3,397
NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey TournamentUnited States Flag United StatesAmateur intercollegiate competition3,281
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)Canada CanadaJunior league3,271
Southern Professional Hockey LeagueUnited States Flag United States3,116
Austrian Hockey LeagueAustria Flag Austria (8 teams)
Hungary Flag Hungary (1 team)
Czech Hockey Czechia (1 team)
Italy Flag Italy (1 team)
Croatia Croatia (1 team)
Elite Ice Hockey LeagueUnited Kingdom Flag United KingdomTeams in all of the home nations: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland2,850
HockeyAllsvenskanSwedish Flag SwedenSecond division of Sweden2,713
DEL2Germany Flag GermanySecond division of Germany2,511
United States Hockey League (USHL)United States Flag United StatesAmateur junior league2,367
Swiss LeagueSwitzerland Flag  SwitzerlandSecond division of Switzerland1,845
GET-ligaenNorway Flag Norway1,827
Supreme Hockey League (VHL)Russia Flag Russia (24 teams)
Kazakhstan Flag Kazakhstan (2 teams)
China Flag China (2 teams)
Second division of Russia and partial development league for the KHL1,766
Ligue MagnusFrance Flag France1,716
WSM LigaCzech Hockey CzechiaSecond division of Czechia1,674
Slovak ExtraligaSlovakia Slovakia  (11 teams)
Hungary Flag Hungary (2 teams)
Formed from the split of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League1,663
Federal Prospects Hockey LeagueUnited States Flag United States1,546
Metal LigaenDenmark Denmark1,525
Latvian Hockey Higher LeagueLatvia Flag Latvia (6 teams)1,354
Asia LeagueJapan Flag Japan (4 teams)
South Korea Flag South Korea (3 teams)
Russia Flag Russia (1 team)
China Flag China (1 team)
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)United States Flag United States (5 teams)
Canada Canada (1 team)
Formed in 2015954
BeNe LeagueNetherlands Flag Netherlands (10 teams)
Belgium Flag Belgium (6 teams)
Formed in 2015 with teams from Dutch Eredivisie and Belgian Hockey League784
MestisFinland FinlandSuccessor to I-Divisioona, Second division of Finland762
Polska Hokej LigaPoland Flag Poland751
Alps Hockey LeagueAustria Flag Austria (7 teams)
Italy Flag Italy (8 teams)
Slovenia Flag Slovenia (2 teams)
Formed in 2016 with the merger of Italy’s Serie A and the joint Austrian–Slovenian Inter-National League734
Belarusian ExtraleagueBelarus Flag Belarus717
Erste LigaHungary Flag Hungary (6 teams)
Romania Flag Romania (2 teams)
Austria Flag Austria (1 team)
Swedish Women’s Hockey LeagueSwedish Flag SwedenFormed in 2007 and known as Riksserien until 2016234

International League News

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)

The IIHF is the formal governing body for the ice hockey federations in 76 countries. They are responsible for managing international tournaments and maintaining the IIHF World Rankings.

Team Canada Gold Medal 2023 World Junior Championship
Team Canada poses with their gold medals after defeating Team Czechia 3-2 in overtime at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Current Title Holders

TournamentWorld ChampionYear
MenFinland Finland2022
Men’s World JuniorCanada Canada2023
Men’s U-18Swedish Flag Sweden2022
WomenCanada Canada2022
Women’s U-18Canada Canada2022

Men’s World Championship

Women’s World Championship

World Junior Hockey Championship

Czech Republic Overtime WJC
Czech Republic players celebrate their overtime win during World Junior Hockey Championship action in Vancouver, on Wednesday December 26, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Men’s U-18 World Championship

Olympic Ice Hockey

Men’s Tournament

1Canada Canada94316
2United States Flag United States 28111
T3Russia Flag Soviet Union 7119
T3Swedish Flag Sweden2349
5Czech Hockey Czechoslovakia0448
6Finland Finland0246
T7Czech Hockey Czech Republic1012
T7United Kingdom Flag Great Britain1012
T7Germany Flag Germany0112
T7Russia Flag Russia0112
T7Switzerland Flag Switzerland0022
T12Olympic Flag Olympic Athletes from Russia1001
T12Olympic Flag Unified Team1001
T12Germany Flag West Germany0011
Totals (14 Nations)24242472
1980 Olympic Team USA
LAKE PLACID, NY – FEBRUARY 22: Team USA celebrates after defeating the Soviet Union to advance to the Gold Medal game during the 1980 Olympic Games on February 22, 1980 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Women’s Tournament

T1Canada Canada4206
T1United States Flag United States 2316
3Finland Finland0033
4Swedish Flag Sweden0112
5Switzerland Flag Switzerland0011
Totals (5 Nations)66618
Olympic Hockey
Four Olympic women shared the ice for the skills competition … and stole the show (Zeke – THW)