Archive for OG History

Russians Left Red-Faced

A Finnish player lunges in a bid to steal the puck from the on-rushing Russian player in a historic match at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. In just their second-ever Olympic match, the Russians managed to 'accomplish' what had never been 'achieved' before by the old juggernaut from the Soviet Union.

A Finnish player lunges in a bid to steal the puck from the on-rushing Russian player in a historic match at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. In just their second-ever Olympic match, the Russians managed to 'accomplish' what had never been 'achieved' before by the old juggernaut from the Soviet Union.

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Including the results of the Unified Team at Albertville in 1992, the UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS entered ten competitions for ice hockey at the Winter Olympic Games and ended eight of those as tournament champions.

With that legacy left to serve as some sort of measuring stick, the newly re-born nation of RUSSIA sent its first-ever official Oympic ice hockey team to Norway for the 1994 Winter Games. 

At Lillehammer in Norway, Russia’s national team coach, VIKTOR TIKHONOV, had remained the same as the old Soviet Union, but the quality of the national side itself had not. For decades, the USSR had been able to access its best players all the time. However, the en masse stampede of the former Soviet skaters to sign lucrative professional contracts in the West, preferably, the National Hockey League, at the start of the 1990s had extracted too much of a toll on the talent pool available for the national team.

The results were evident immediately.

Although the Russians took care of the host nation 5-1 in their first outing, Tikhonov’s troops were left red-faced shortly thereafter. The USSR and the Unified Team had played a combined 70 games over the course of 36 years without failing to score at least one goal in an ice hockey match at the Winter Games. Russia, in just their second Olympic contest ever, were summarily shutout 5-0 by their Nordic neighbors from Finland.

Later, in their fourth Group A round-robin game, Russia were defeated 4-2 by Germany. Sporting the record of sixty-seven wins and one tie, the old Soviet Union had never lost to West Germany in any match whatsoever including ’friendly’ exhibitions. For the record, the USSR never lost to East Germany, either, having won thirty-five games with one draw.

At the Lillehammer Games in 1994, the winds of change were certainly blowing and right in the Russians face, as well.

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Winds Of Change Blow Into Norway

Canada's ERIC LINDROS (88) upends VYACHESLAV BUTSAYEV (22) of the Unified Team at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France. The fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 touched off a series of events that resulted in great upheaval for the world of international hockey that contiuned well into the 1990s.

Canada's ERIC LINDROS (88) upends VYACHESLAV BUTSAYEV (22) of the Unified Team at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France. The fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 touched off a series of events that resulted in great upheaval for the world of international hockey that contiuned well into the 1990s.

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The SOVIET UNION having ceased to exist in December of 1991, it was the so-called “Unified Team” that competed under the International Olympic Committee’s traditional banner, a white flag bearing the five multi-colored Olympic rings, at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

The Unified Team was a joint venture that represented six of the former fifteen Soviet republics — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Officially, the Unified Team competed at the Olympics under the country code EUN, which was derived from the French term, EQUIPPE UNIFIEE. Not surprisingly, the Soviet Union’s stand-in fielded a formidable ice hockey contingent which captured the set of gold medals in the French Alps in convincing fashion.

All but two of the Unified Team’s champion pucksters were Russians; CSKA Moscow blueliner ALEXEI ZHITNIK of Ukraine and Dynamo Moscow defenseman DARIUS KASPARAITIS of Lithuania were the lone exceptions. Both players would later declare and compete internationally for Russia.

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Russia immediately took the USSR’s place at the IIHF World Championships in the spring of 1992 a few months following the Albertville Games.

The rest of the old hockey-playing Soviet republics — Belarus, Estonia, Latvia (which had declared independence from the disintegrating USSR in the spring of 1991), Lithuania (the first to declare independence in the spring of 1990), Kazakhstan and Ukraine — contested a qualifying tournament staged by the International Ice Hockey Federation in the fall of 1992 to determine entry level at the World Championships. 

Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine all earned the right to begin play at the C Pool for the 1993 edition of the IIHF’s annual event.

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The recently resurrected country of RUSSIA made its first appearance at the Olympics with the Winter Games held at Lillehammer in 1994.

Two brand new nations in the CZECH REPUBLIC and SLOVAKIA — the two entities that had comprised the one-time international ice hockey power from the former Czechoslovakia — also made their Olympic debuts in Norway that year.

The Czech Republic, like Russia, had immediately transitioned to the A Pool at the 1992 IIHF World Championships.

Slovakia, however, would not begin competition at the C Pool of the IIHF World Championships until the spring of 1994. Thus, with the Winter Olympic Games at Lillehammer, the Slovaks skated for the very first time at a major international ice hockey tournament.

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Same Old Soviet Union

Soviet left wing VLADIMIR KRUTOV (9) fends off a West German check at the 1988 Winter Games. The USSR defeated West Germany 6-3 in Calgary. Krutov finished the Olympic tournament top scorer with 15 points (6 go 9 as) in eight games.

Soviet left wing VLADIMIR KRUTOV (9) fends off a West German check at the 1988 Winter Games. The USSR defeated West Germany 6-3 in Calgary. Krutov finished the Olympic tournament top scorer with 15 points (6 go 9 as) in eight games.

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There was a belief shared by many, particularly in Canada, that the Soviet machine was ready to have its plug pulled at the ice hockey tournament for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Calgary.

The Soviet Union, after all, had failed to win the 1987 IIHF World Championships in Vienna; this marked the second time in three years the USSR did not win the annual IIHF event. The USSR also later fell in the finals at the 1987 Canada Cup. Significantly, the Soviet Union then lost their annual Izvestia Cup, often referred to as the Olympic dress rehearsal, just before the Christmas holiday season to end the year, as well.

With the Winter Games now open to professionals and amateurs alike, there was much speculation that Calgary could spell the end of the line for Soviet domination of Olympic ice hockey.

A mere five goals in their opening game against traiditional minnows Norway seemed to lend credibility to theories detailing the decline of the USSR. The fact that the West Germans hung tough for fifty minutes and the Americans pulled back from 6-2 down to draw within a goal late did little to dispell such notions about the Soviet Union during the round-robin phase of the Calgary Games, either.

But then came the Soviets’ final round-robin match against their old Eastern-bloc arch-rivlas, the Czechoslovaks, and, with such, a return-to-normalcy appeared to arrive at the Olympic ice hockey competition.

The USSR comfortably skated past Czechoslovakia 6-1 and then moved into the medal round to face host nation Canada. With thirteen players on the roster bearing NHL experience, the Canadians were fostering hopes of a medal at the Olympics for the first time in twenty years. In part due to the 5-0 shutout defeat issued by the Soviets, Canada’s wait would continue.

The Soviets lost no games in Vienna but still finished second to Sweden, who actually lost three games at the 1987 Worlds. For the medal round match involving the two countries at Calgary, retribution was clearly on somebody’s mind as evidenced by the 7-1 scoreline favoring the USSR.

Although another game with Finland remained for the Soviet Union, the final standings were now academic — the USSR could not be caught in the race for the gold medal.

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Seventh Heaven For Soviets

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The world has still never seen anything like it and perhaps may very well never again.

If there was only one thing the UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS could always be counted for, it was most certainly a powerful contestant for the ice hockey tournament at the Winter Olympic Games.

When Soviet captain VYACHESLAV FETISOV and his teammates accepted the gold medals at the Calgary Games in 1988, it marked the seventh occasion in Olympic history that the USSR secured the championship; to contrast, the country that is credited with creating the sport of ice hockey, Canada, had collected six gold medals at the Olympics up to that point.

Although many in attendance at the Olympic Saddledome for the medal ceremonies may not have known at the time, the 1988 Calgary Games on the plains of western Canada would mark the final official appearance of the Soviet Union at the Winter Olympics. The USSR had first sent a squad to compete for Olympic glory at the 1956 Cortina Games in the Italian Alps. In between, the Soviets skated at nine tournaments literally all over the world and, including ‘qualification’ games, won an astounding 55 games against just five losses with two draws.

The winds of change were already beginning to blow, however, and so the Calgary Games were the last Winter Olympics that saw the old CCCP sweater.

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Red Tape Cut For USSR Contingent

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Left : SERGEI MAKAROV (24) at Rendez-Vous ’87 in Quebec City

Right : The Tank, VLADIMIR KRUTOV (9)

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Roughly half of the Soviet ice hockey team appearing in Calgary for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games were skating in the National Hockey League within two years.

In the summer of 1989, all the different and necessary authorities in the USSR finally agreed to to permit veteran Soviet players to sign with professional National Hockey League clubs in the West. Six of the Soviet Union’s Calgary contingent were conspicuously and immediately involved :

  • 31 – F — Sergei MAKAROV — Calgary Flames
  • 31 – D — Vyacheslav FETISOV — New Jersey Devils 
  • 30 – D — Sergei STARIKOV — New Jersey Devils
  • 30 – G — Sergei MYLNIKOV — Quebec Nordiques
  • 29 – F — Vladimir KRUTOV — Vancouver Canucks
  • 28 – F — Igor LARIONOV — Vancouver Canucks

Midway through the 1989-90 season, 30-year-old defenseman ALEXEI KASATONOV left CSKA Moscow to reunite with his long-time blueline partner Fetisov in New Jersey. At the conclusion of the Soviet elite league that spring, 28-year-old center ANATOLI SEMENOV departed Dynamo Moscow to join the eventual Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers.

Previously, in the spring of 1989, after collecting his gold medal at the IIHF World Championships for the Soviet Union in Stockholm, 20-year-old star prospect ALEXANDER MOGILNY defected the USSR while in Sweden and wandered his way to the United States to offer his services to the Buffalo Sabres.

In all, fourteen of the Soviet Union’s gold medalists in ice hockey from the Calgary Games eventually ended up in the employment of NHL clubs.

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Calgary ’88 : Home Boys Boost West Germans Past Czechoslovakia

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Canadian-born and bred KARL FRIESEN (left), who appeared at three Winter Olympic Games for both West Germany and Germany, was a six-time Bundesliga All-Star and was also twice named the West German elite league’s most valueable player.

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It was the very first event of the XV Winter Olympics in 1988. In fact, the initial puck was dropped at the Olympic Saddledome for the Czechoslovakia – West Germany ice hockey match before the Olympic flame had been formally lit for the opening ceremonies inside McMahon Stadium. Nonetheless, the very first suprise result of the Calgary Games ensued.

Czechoslovakia, winners of four silver and two Olympic bronze medals since 1948, had come to Calgary seeded third on the back on a bronze medal at the 1987 IIHF World Championships in Vienna. Two years previously, in 1985, the Czechoslovaks captured the annual IIHF title on home ice in Prague. The West Germans, on the other hand, had never beaten Czechoslovakia at the Winter Olympics having lost all six prior meetings and given up an average of eight and a half goals per game in the process.

An so, JIRI HRDINA’s late first period power play goal to give Czechoslovakia a 1-0 lead came as no great shock to the crowd at the Saddledome. The supposed-neutral spectators cheered enthusiastically; no fewer than six of Czechoslovakia’s 1988 Olympic squad had been drafted by the hometown Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League. Hrdina, in fact, was slated by Czechoslovak authorities to join the NHL’s Flames immediately after the Winter Games were finished.

The West Germans, however, delivered notice of intent by posting an edge in shots-on-goal for the opening period. With the quintessential Bundesliga tactic, a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle, it was EC Koeln winger HELMUT STEIGER who leveled the score not six minutes into the second stanza for West Germany. Meanwhile, the West Germans continued to play with a physical approach and again ran up a another advantage in the period for shots-on-goal.

Czechoslovakia had more of the play in the final twenty minutes but were unable to find the answer to KARL FRIESEN in the West German goal. Born in Winnipeg and a product of Canadian junior hockey, the 29-year-old netminder had become a star in the Bundesliga for SB Rosenheim and the regular first-choice for the West German national team before signing with the New Jersey Devils organization in the fall of 1985. Friesen only made four appearances (7.38 avg) in the NHL for New Jersey and spent most of the year manning the nets for the Maine Mariners (35 ga, 3.48 avg, 2 so) in the American Hockey League.

Friesen, who finished with 30 saves, kept Czechoslovakia off the scoreboard and set the stage for two more native Canadians to play their part in the opening act at the Calgary Games.

Former University of Calgary student-ahtlete and one-time Buffalo Sabres defenseman RON FISCHER initiated the decisive move.

Another Canadian junior hockey product and veteran West German international, ROY ROEDGER, provided the creative pass which allowed PETER SCHILLER to easily backhand past JAROMIR SINDEL (31 saves) in the Czechoslovak cage with seven minutes left.

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Have Stick, Will Travel

CANADA and WEST GERMANY compete at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

CANADA and WEST GERMANY compete at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

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Altogether, one quarter of coach XAVER UNSINN’s West Germany’s ice hockey team at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games held at Calgary were native-born Canadians — goaltender KARL FRIESEN, defensemen RON FISCHER and HAROLD KREIS in addition to forwards ROY ROEDGER and MANFRED WOLF.

Fischer and Friesen, both indigenous to western Canada (along with the East German-born UDO KIESSLING) became the first players with National Hockey League experience to fashion the sweater of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Olympics, as well.

Ironically enough, for the first tournament open to professionals past or present at Calgary, the player with the most NHL games played at that point in time — former New Jersey Devils defenseman ULI HIEMER of EG Dusseldorf — was passed on by Unsinn and the West German national team.

In the late 1970s, coach HEINZ WEISENBACH of Bundesliga club ERC Mannheim, promoted from the second division in 1976, began a program in earnest to recruit Canadian-trained players who could compete in the West German elite league as ‘native’ skaters. At that time, Bundesliga clubs were operating under strict limits on the number of foreign players. Kreis, Roedger and Wolf were three of the many Canucks brought in by Weisenbach to improve modest club Mannheim’s chances of survival in the top division.

In 1978, the first ex-NHL skater was first given a West German national team sweater for a major international event. Former Atlanta Flames and Vancouver Canucks defenseman BOB MURRAY was deployed by West German national team coach HANS RAMPF for the IIHF World Championships in Prague that spring. The one-time Michigan Tech University rearguard would appear at three World Championships for West Germany but was always, of course, ineligible to play at the Winter Olympics.

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Innsbruck ’76 : Epic Finale / USSR vs CSSR

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Two goals inside of 24 seconds from VALERY KHARLAMOV (left) and ALEXANDER YAKUSHEV (right) with under five minutes remaining lifted the USSR to a dramatic 4-3 decision over Czechoslovakia on the final day at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

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As classic a de facto Gold Medal Match as Olympic history has to offer…

Ever since half a million soldiers from the armies of the SOVIET UNION and other Warsaw Pact nations invaded CZECHOSLOVAKIA back in 1968, international sporting events between the two nations had soared to new heights for intensity as well as competitiveness — especially in ice hockey. 

Even before the decisive final twenty minutes at the finale of the 1976 Winter Olympic tournament, one cannot say that Czechoslovakia did not have ample opportunity to defeat the Soviet Union and deliver a powerful message of symbolic revenge in the final game at Innsbruck.

At the clash of Eastern-bloc arch-rivals and contemporary international ice hockey powerhouses in the Austrian Alps, the USSR were shooting for a fourth consecutive set of gold medals at the Winter Games; Czechoslovakia were coveting the first Olympic title in their nation’s history.

The Czechoslovaks, in fact, were already leading 2-0 thru centers MILAN NOVY (6) and IVAN HLINKA (10) midway through the second period when a glorious chance arrived. A pair of Soviets in the box gave Czechoslovakia a 5-on-3 power play which, however, went by the boards thanks to the noteable efforts of USSR center VLADIMIR SHADRIN (19) as well as defensemen YURI LIAPKIN (5) and GENNADY TSYGANKOV (7) on the penalty-kill.

Having earned the reprieve, the Soviets thereafter responded with goals from Shadrin and fellow centerman VLADIMIR PETROV (16) to knot the match and leave all to play for in the third period.

Czechoslovakia’s JIRI HOLOCEK (2) and the USSR’s VLADISLAV TRETIAK (20) each managed to keep all pucks out over the first half of the last period.

It is at this point that the uninterupted footage presented by WORLD HOCKEY begins, with roughly ten minutes left in the third at the OLYMPIA EISHALLE in Innsbruck and the score level at USSR 2 – CSSR 2 :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMtNnAGQowc&feature=PlayList&p=39223EECA14DEC79&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=4

Roughly a 1:20 into the clip, the Czechoslovak captain and center of a doping scandal at Innsbruck, FRANTISEK POSPISIL (7), collects a Soviet clearance in his own end and skates the puck well behind his own net before embarking on a mid-ice rush. At the red line, the defenseman squares the puck for his streaking SONP Kladno teammate EDUARD NOVAK (22).

Once inside the Soviet zone and seemingly surrounded, the 29-year-old right wing quickly fires a wrist-shot that appears to take a deflection off of defenseman ALEANDER GUSEV (2) and fool Tretiak in the USSR goal. An indelible, if premature, celebration from Novak ensues. The Czechoslovaks are now nine minutes less two seconds from the Olympic gold medal.

A few minutes later, Czechoslovak will critically fail to widen their lead, however. At the 4:35 mark of the clip, the veteran Olympian JIRI HOLIK (20) circles his own cage and heads down the right on a rink-length rush before deftly dishing the disc to BOHUSLAV STASTNY (12). Although at first apparently beaten, the catllike Tretiak is able to thwart the Tesla Pardubice wing with a last-ditch dive and literally save the game for the USSR.

This stop proves to be absolutely critical for, soon, the Soviet Union will immediately strike back after the go-ahead goal-scorer Novak is sent to the penalty box with less than six minutes to play for a foul on BORIS MIKHAILOV (13) along the left wing boards.

The Czechoslovaks do not appear to be in such bad shape on the penalty-kill until Tysgankov pulls a smart move in front of his pursuer Novy’s bench and sends the speeding VIKTOR SHALIMOV (9) the puck. A procession of drop passes among Spartak players produces a goal-mouth scramble. Finally, Shalimov is able to poke the puck across to ALEXANDER YAKUSHEV (15) on the right and, in an instant, the game is tied.

Considering the earlier victory at Innsbruck Czechoslovakia were made to forfeit on account of Pospisil’s failed drug test following the Poland match, a draw was enough to do the deal for the Soviets in their last match.

Within a scant 24 seconds, however, the result was rendered beyond doubt in the Gold Medal Match at Innsbruck.

Petrov controls an offensive zone face-off and immediately slips the puck past defenseman JIRI BUBLA (19) to a wide-open VALERY KHARLAMOV (17) in front of the Czechoslovak goal. With Holocek now caught out of position, the whole of the net is at the CSKA Moscow left wing’s mercy. Kharlamov makes no mistake as the USSR surge suddenly ahead.

Four minutes minus one second still remain to be contested but it is almost immediately evident that the Czechoslovaks’ spirit has been effectively eliminated by the Soviets’ lightning-quick, consecutive goals in the second half of the third period.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=EdVRAJUv7aU&feature=PlayList&p=CC82D1F23532925D&index=14

The Soviets begin to practice some possession hockey in earnest and, thus, severely crimp Czechoslovakia’s chances for the two goals the blue helmets now require to take the gold medal.

In fact, it is the Soviets who have all the best opportunities the rest of the way; a single long wrist shot from Novak easily swept aside by Tretiak with under a minute to go summarized Czechoslovakia’s  most dangerous counterattack.

After the CSKA Moscow puck tamer turned away a desperation drive from outside the blueline by OLDRICH MACHAC (4) in the waning moments, the USSR’s run of Olympic supremacy since 1964 remained in tact.

For the fifth time in six appearances at the Winter Games, the Soviet Union are Olympic ice hockey champions.

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Additional highlight footage from the 1976 de facto Gold Medal Match at the Olympia Eishalle in Innsbruck.

The slow-motion shots of the third Soviet goal provides a different angle for the viewing connoisseur.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=X2c0fLOOSYE&feature=related

The uninhibited frustration to be found on the faces of the Czechoslovaks at their bench following Yakushev’s tying goal is rather insightful, as well.

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Innsbruck ’76 : Numerical Rosters – Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union

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Left : Czechoslovakia center MILAN NOVY

Right : Soviet Union center VLADMIR SHADRIN

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So as to better facilitate enjoyment of the footage from the classic confrontation that comprised the de facto Gold Medal Match for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria — the numerical rosters for the two competing nations of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union :

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SOVIET UNION — coaches — Boris KULAGIN and Konstantin LOKTEV

  •   1 — G —– Alexander SIDELNIKOV – Soviet Wings — (did not play)
  •   2 — D —– Alexander GUSEV — CSKA Moscow
  •   3 — D —– Vladimir LUTCHENKO — CSKA Moscow
  •   4 — D —– Sergei BABINOV — Soviet Wings
  •   5 — D —– Yuri LIAPKIN — Spartak Moscow
  •   6 — D —– Valery VASILIEV — Dynamo Moscow
  •   7 — D —– Gennady TSYGANKOV — CSKA Moscow
  •   8 — LW — Sergei KAPUSTIN — Soviet Wings
  •   9 — RW — Viktor SHALIMOV — Spartak Moscow
  • 10 — RW — Alexander MALTSEV — Dynamo Moscow
  • 11 — LW — Boris ALEXANDROV — CSKA Moscow — (did not play)
  • 13 — RW — Boris MIKHAILOV — CSKA Moscow
  • 15 — LW —- Alexander YAKUSHEV — Spartak Moscow
  • 16 — C —— Vladimir PETROV — CSKA Moscow
  • 17 — LW —- Valery KHARLAMOV — CSKA Moscow
  • 19 — C —— Vladimir SHADRIN — Spartak Moscow
  • 20 — G —— Vladislav TRETIAK — CSKA Moscow
  • 22 — C —— Viktor ZHLUKTOV — CSKA Moscow 

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CZECHOSLOVAKIA — coaches — Karel GUT and Jan STARSI

  •   2 — G —– Jiri HOLOCEK — Sparta Prague
  •   4 — D —– Oldrich MACHAC — ZKL Brno
  •   5 — D —– Milan CHALUPA — Dukla Jihlava
  •   6 — C —– Milan NOVY — SONP Kladno
  •   7 — D —– Frantisek POSPISIL — SONP Kladno
  •   8 — G —– Pavol SVITANA — VSZ Kosice — (did not play)
  •   9 — D —– Miroslav DVORAK — Motor Ceske Budejovice
  • 10 — RW — Vladimir MARTINEC — Tesla Pardubice
  • 11 — C —— Jiri NOVAK — Tesla Pardubice
  • 12 — LW — Bohuslav STASTNY — Tesla Pardubice
  • 17 — D —— Milan KAJKL — Skoda Plzen
  • 19 — D —— Jiri BUBLA — CHZ Litivinov
  • 20 — RW — Jiri HOLIK — Dukla Jihlava
  • 21 — C —— Ivan HLINKA — CHZ Litvinov
  • 22 — RW — Eduard NOVAK — SONP Kladno
  • 23 — LW — Jaroslav POUZAR — Motor Ceske Budejovice
  • 25 — LW — Bohuslav EBERMANN — Skoda Plzen
  • 26 — LW — Josef AUGUSTA — Dukla Jihlava

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Readers will note the USSR squad is comprised of skaters exclusively from the four Moscow-based clubs in the Soviet elite league whereas Czechoslovakia have eight different clubs represented from their top domestic circuit.

BORIS ALEXANDROV, who did not take a single shift for the Soviet Union in the Innsbruck finale versus Czechoslovakia, was the only ice hockey player from Kazakhstan to ever appear for the USSR at the Winter Olympic Games.

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Holik First To Hold Four Medals

JIRI HOLIK appeared at no fewer than 17 major international tournaments for Czechoslovakia over the course of his career. Holik skated a total of 319 games, a national record, for Czechoslovakia in all international competitions.

JIRI HOLIK appeared at no fewer than 17 major international tournaments for Czechoslovakia over the course of his career. Holik skated a total of 319 games, a national record, for Czechoslovakia in all international competitions.

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Despite his team’s disappointing 4-3 loss to the Soviet Union in the final match at the 1976 Innsbruck Games, the veteran Czechoslovakia forward JIRI HOLIK still had cause to feel like an Olympic champion.

In fact, the 31-year-old Dukla Jihlava winger had just accomplished what no other player in history ever had — a fourth medal for ice hockey at the Winter Olympic Games.

Interesting enough, Holik made his Olympic debut for Czechoslovakia in 1964 in the Austrian city of Innsbruck and, ultimately, ended his career at the Winter Games in 1976 in the very same arena at the foot of the Tyrolean Alps.

Holik, after two seasons in West Germany for SB Rosenheim, also completed his playing career in Austria with AT Stadlau Wien (Vienna) in 1981.

In a bit of irony, Holik’s opposite number in the de facto Gold Medal Match at Innsbruck in 1976, USSR goaltender VLADISLAV TRETIAK, became the next player to pocket a fourth Olympic medal at the 1984 Sarajevo Games in Yugoslavia.

Defenseman IGOR KRAVCHUK, who competed for the Soviet Union, Unified Team as well as Russia at the Winter Games, is the only other player to have ever totaled four medals for ice hockey at the Olympics.

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