In 1975 the Druzhba Sport Palace was opened in Donetsk. As part of this sport event, a hockey match between teams from Moscow Krylya Sovetov and Dinamo was organized. Donetsk supporters watched top-stars on the ice - I. Dmitriev, Y. Lebedev, P. Prirodin, Y. Shatalov, S. Bobariko, V. Polupanov. Later that year it was decided to establish a hockey school based at the ice palace.
1978-The year was marked by the decision to host the USSR Junior Championship in Druzhba Palace - CSKA, Spartak Moscow. Sokil Kyiv, SKA Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Traktor Chelyabinsk, Ermak Angarsk (an unknown team at that time, which had future stars of Soviet hockey such as Zemchenko, Ovchinnikov, Zemko in the roster). That's when their performance drew the attention of Sokil Kyiv agents, so Donetsk ice promoted their career.
In 1981, Donetsk hosted the Soviet Sport Newspaper Prize international hockey tournament. Sokil Kyiv, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Torpedo Gorky (Nizhni Novgorod), Kristall Saratov, SKA-Uritskogo Kazan (Ak Bars nowadays), Ilves Finland and the national team of Romania took part in this tournament.
The highest level of hockey came to Donetsk in 1985. In November residents and visitors became witnesses to exciting matches, which was attended by the junior teams of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union (two teams), Romania, Poland, Hungary, Germany (then East Germany) and Bulgaria. It was symbolic that the tournament named Friendship was held at the Sport Palace with the same title (Druzhba mean friendship in both Russian and Ukrainian). Before 1985 such competitions were held in the USSR only twice. And then the third time - in Donetsk! Many boys changed their life priorities in choosing to do sports having seen the tournament. Children’s sports schools were rapidly replenished by young cadres. Young players joined the team in different age categories soon and later in specialized classes on the basis of one of the schools of the city.
In season-1989/90, young hockey players from Donetsk were to take part in the championship of Ukraine. With opponents from Sokil, Ldinka, Krasnyi ekskavator (all three of Kyiv), Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, Dniprodzerzhinsk, Donetsk won the tournament! The first professional team from Donetsk called Kooperator was founded and it competed in the second league A class in the USSR Championship. The Donetsk team which included Gordyushin D., M. Grigoryuk, Y. Khardikov, V. Kutovoi, G. Kravchenko had to face serious rivals from Moscow(Rubyn, Alisa), Bryansk (Volna), Rybinsk (Saturn), Zagorsk (Lych), Alexandria (Record), and Uglich (Chayka).
Irreversible processes within the country had a negative influence on the further development of sports. Ice-hockey wasn't excepted. In May 1991 the old equipment of Druzhba Palace was disabled once and for all. It needed to be repaired, but there was no financial investment, so the Children`s sport school was closed. Many Donetsk players went to different cities of the Soviet Union to seek other teams to play for. I. Ivanov, E Levashov, S. Selivanov (coach Slepov) stayed in Russia and played for Voronezh Buran for a long time. I. Polishchuk, A. Beliansky moved to Saratov Kristall and S. Viter was successful not only in Russian clubs SKA-Amur Khabarovsk (now KHL Amur), Elemash Elektrostal, but also performed well in the Polish VOYAS and Belarus HC Gomel. The most celebrated and titled Donetsk hockey-player, Oleg Tverdovsky (S. Petrov’s pupil), won two Stanley Cups, Olympic bronze, World IIHF champion title in 2009 (with the Russian team) and KHL Gagarin Cup in 2009/10.
Despite the difficulties, many players stayed in Donetsk. Hockey club Nord was founded at the start of 1992. The club roster included both local players - A. Kutsaev, Y. Khardikov, A. Gorevoy, D. Gordyushin, M. Grigoryuk, A. Shafikov, A. Dmitriev, A. Zhitkov and players from Kharkiv - A. Kobikov, V. Ovcharenko , Galkin. The team received an invitation to participate in the First Winter Sports Games in Ukraine, where it won bronze medals. Donetsk goalie A. Kutsaev was the best in the tournament. Unfortunately, the lack of funds, practicing facilities and its own ice-rink turned out to be fatal. The team finished the championship, and was disbanded.
Only in June 2001 was it decided to create the professional hockey club Donbass. The backbone of the new team was made up of former Nord players. Invitations to join the team were also received by players from Kharkiv and Kyiv: D. Pashinsky, S. Sady, O. Panasenko, D. Gnitko, A.Kalytka, D. Klyuchko, O. Timchenko. Having the right to participate in the two championships (championship Belarus Division 1 and the Ukrainian League 1 League), Donetsk players won bronze medals in both championships. Championship hockey returned to Donetsk. But like a bolt from the blue the dissolution of the team was announced. The reason for this turn of events nobody knows so far. Did this piece of news catch all players and fans unawares?
The new era of Donbass began in 2005! In winter a new attempt to create a professional team in Donetsk was made. The new squad applied to join the championship of Ukraine (first division) and started practising. Trainings were conducted on the frozen lake in Yasinovataya because of the lack of artificial ice in Donetsk. Only three weeks of preparation was enough for the team to perform successfully in the tournament and win gold. According to the regulations, Donetsk hockey players should be invloved in play-offs against the club from Kiev, ATEK, to enter the top-league. Games were held in March 2006. It required careful preparation, but spring arrived early and the lake melted. Rescue came from the directorate of the recreation park Gorodok, where a brand new skating rink with artificial ice was built. The training process was resumed in full. Donetsk had to play two games against ATEK and both took place in Kiev. The matches were won by the more experienced Kyiv squad.
In 2007, HC Donbas took part in the Ukrainian National Cup and finished fifth out of six participants. Later in May HC Donbas took part in prestigious Ukrainian tournament Treid Point Cup, which was held in Dnipropetrovsk for the sixth time. Donetsk players I. Ivanov, C. Ruchko, Y. Khardikov, I. Polishchuk, D. Sirenko, S. Shakurov, V. Blakitny, A. Kalinichenko, A. Verhoday, I. Filatov, D. Gordyushin formed the core of the team and also some external players were invited - a goalie Vadym Seliverstov and forwards R. Yuldashev and E. Sychenko. Donbass performed very strongly and reached the final, where they beat Meteor 5:3. So the main prize was taken to Donetsk! In September 2007, the team consisted of more than 20 players, and in autumn
Leader ice-rink was built in Donetsk, where Donbass started to practice. A youth hockey school was also established, which was governed by a specialist S. Petrov.
In 2009, Donbass managment invited an ex-player of Sokil Kyiv, Andrei Ovchinnikov, to become head coach. Donetsk hockey fans looked on this assignment with hope, but it wasn't to be. It didn't work out - Ovchinnikov's team only took fifth place in the Ukrainian championship and the club did not prolong the contract with the coach. The team was in crisis and the situation needed to be reviewed. And changes came soon!
In summer 2010 Aleksander Kulikov became the new head coach of Donbass, with - Anatoliy Demin (ex-partner of Kulikov at Sokil Kyiv times of 80s) and Sergiy Viter as his assistants. A new approach to the game and new perfomances on the ice came soon - it became interesting and unpredictable. Due to this Donbass achieved a record winning streak in the Ukrainian championships!
The winning streak of 27 games lead Donbass to win the regular championship and to their first Ukrainian gold medals. In beating the most celebrated and titled squad in Ukraine, Sokil Kyiv, in the final series (1:0, 3:2), Donbass became the first non-Kyiv team to win the national championship. In November Donbass is to take part in the IIHF Continental Cup-2011/12. The third round will take part in Donetsk Druzhba Palace.