Spain’s under-18 team showed that Spain could be future contenders for ice hockey glory after they claimed the country's third gold of the season by securing the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey under-18 World Championship Division II Group B title.
The Spaniards topped the group after going undefeated in their five games in Zagreb, Croatia.
This means Spanish teams have now taken three of the four World Championship titles contested this year after the under-20 team won the Division II Group B competition in Belgrade, Serbia, in January and the women’s senior team came out on top in the Division IIB competition on home ice last week.
President of the Spanish Ice Sports Federation (FEDH) Frank Gonzalez says this success proves that ice hockey can thrive in nations away from the heartland of the game.
“For us, this feels like a miracle,” he said.
“We’re here in the southernmost point of Europe, and we’re showing that we can compete against countries with a real tradition and culture in ice hockey.
“We’re still a long way from competing at the elite level, but the work of all our teams deserves a lot of credit.”
A large part of Spain’s recent ice hockey success can be traced to coach Timo Tuomi, who is from Finland.
Tuomi has been part of Spain’s national development programme since 2010 and brings vast experience from the Finnish leagues.
Under Tuomi’s stewardship, Spanish players have been gaining experience outside of Spain in nations with better ice hockey facilities such as Canada and Switzerland.
There are plans to further grow the game in Spain with several new or redeveloped ice rinks set to open across the country in the near future.
The idea of building a Centre of Excellence in Barcelona is also being proposed with officials hoping that the recent success of the Spanish teams will make it easier to attract funding for the project.