Medveščak is the most successful ice hockey team in Croatia, and, together with Dinamo, one of Zagreb’s most popular teams, with an average of 7,828 spectators per game.
The club was established in 1961 and played in an open rink until 1971, when its current indoor rink was built in Dom sportova. Nicknamed Medvjedi (the Bears), the club was fairly successful within the Yugoslav Hockey League, especially in the 1986-1991 period, when it was sponsored by the Gortan Building company and won three consecutive championships.
The club lost a significant part of its sponsors after the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, so they mostly played as an amateur outfit, but they returned to the Croatian ice hockey scene in 2004. The team also joined the Slovenian League in 2007 and played in the Austrian Hockey League(EBEL) 2009-2013.
In 2013 the Bears joined the Kontinental Hockey League – the second biggest ice hockey league in the world behind the NHL. This meant a huge change in the players, coaching staff, and the game itself, so many international players were recruited, as well as Mark French, a professional ice hockey coach from Canada. They opened their premiere season in the KHL with their biggest win in the KHL: 7-1 win over CSKA Moscow.
In 2010 the Bears proved that they have a big heart by becoming the only ice hockey club in the world to form a partnership with UNICEF and joining the ranks of sports giants such as Manchester United, Barcelona, and Boca Juniors. This also makes the Bears’ captain a sports spokesperson for ending violence against children. The Bears were selected due to the fact that there were no incidents in their first season in EBEL, even though there were more than 200,000 spectators at their games. The club has done various types of humanitarian work since, participating in anti-AIDS and PETA campaigns, and cooperating with associations such as the Croatian League Against Cancer.
The Bears’ “den” is located on Trg Krešimira Ćosića 11 and has a capacity of 6,358.