min - read
Tom Sychterz
min - read
If you only have a few minutes to spare, here's what you should know:
Uzbekistan has a strong tradition rooted in hockey
They are now back in the scene and on the up and up
They have qualified for 2025 IIHF after 32 years

The History

Uzbekistan hadn’t hosted a single hockey game in over three decades until 2019, but is now home to some of the best hockey teams in Asia at both national and club level.

Hockey was once a very popular sport in Uzbekistan in the 70s and 80s and was very well-known on the international stage thanks to the talent of Uzbek players in the USSR team.

For example, Alexander Fillippov was one of the greatest Uzbek hockey players ever and was a standout D-man in the 1975 Soviet team.

After Uzbekistan declared independence from the USSR in 1991, a new Uzbek national team was never set up and rinks across the country were eventually destroyed and forgotten.

It took 27 years before any action was taken on the Uzbek hockey scene as in 2018 the Uzbek Ice Hockey Federation was established.

Abdumajid Nasirov, a former player in Uzbekistan was a major catalyst in the country’s return to hockey.

When the Hockey Federation was set up and a new national rink, the Humo Arena, was built in the national capital, Tashkent, Nasirov returned to the ice to coach a junior team.

Jasurbek Rustamkhonov was the star of the side when they went to Mongolia to compete in their first ever international competition at the U18 Asia and Oceania Championships as he recorded 14 goals in five games.

Uzbekistan cruised through the competition, battering Turkmenistan in their opening game 5-0 before bulldozing past Iran with an eyewatering scoreline of 14-1.

They were crowned champions with a game to spare after defeating Thailand 10-2 and went on to finish off the tournament with a 44-8 total goal difference.

Uzbekistan had cruised through the championship and claimed gold in their first ever appearance on the international stage. Now, the national team has set their sights on competing in the 2025 World Hockey Championships across multiple age groups.

The Uzbek senior team also made their return to play this year, as they competed in the 2023 Kazan Cup, a non-competitive, Russian tournament that celebrates the Islamic hockey community. Uzbekistan picked up 3 wins and one loss in the tournament, including a 17-0 win over Bahrain.

Izhstal Izhevsk
Izhstal Izhevsk, in the mid-1980s

Where are we now

There hasn’t just been a resurgence in the national team though, as Uzbekistan has also made headway at club level.

In 2018 the Humo Hockey Club was set up in Tashkent and was initially intended to play in the Kontinetal Hockey League (KHL.)

However, the KHL rejected the Uzbek Hockey Federation’s application for a Tashkent-based hockey team and the club instead played in the Supreme Hockey League (VHL) in Russia, while a reserve team played in the Kazakhstan Premier League (KPL.)

Humo debuted in the 2019-2020 VHL season and achieved 7th place in Conference 1 (15th overall) by the end of the season, qualifying them for the playoffs.

They eliminated runners up in Conference 2, Toros Neftekamsk in the first round of the playoffs before facing Zvezda Moskva in the Quarter finals.

Zvezda took a 3-1 series lead over Humo before the league was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite breaking the VHL’s attendance record three times in their debut season, Humo couldn’t make it through the Pandemic and had to withdraw from the league.

The club also withdrew their reserve team from the KPL after a disappointing 10th-place finish out of 11 teams.

After the pandemic, Humo returned to play in the KPL where they are currently playing their third season.

In 2022, Humo’s senior team debuted in the KPL and made it to the playoff quarterfinals before being eliminated.

Last season, Humo once again qualified for the playoffs and this time round went undefeated in all eight games, securing them the Kazakhstan Cup.

This year, Humo have already secured their ticket to return to the playoffs for a third straight year and currently sit just one point behind first in the standings.

Despite spending 32 years without playing a single official competitive game, Uzbekistan has reinstated their spot on the hockey map and will make for an entertaining team to watch when the 2025 IIHF championships roll around.


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