Archive for USSR national team

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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Sapporo ’72 : Third Title For Soviet Father

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For the world-wide audience, it would have been difficult to know that the Sapporo Games would be the last for the man referred to as the Father of Soviet Hockey. But, alas, despite another successful run to the gold medal, the 1972 Winter Olympic Games marked the end of the line for a legend in the USSR. Not before, however, Soviet Union national team coach ANATOLI TARASOV had the chance to chalk up a third Olympic championship.

An integral part of hockey in the USSR since the country had been playing the sport seriously, Tarasov actually had led the Soviet elite league with 14 goals for air force club VVS MVO Moscow that inaugural 1946-47 season. The next winter, the 29-year-old forward transferred to CDKA (later CSKA) Moscow to become the player-coach of the army club. Tarasov, who ceased playing after the 1952-53 schedule, remained rooted behind the bench for CSKA until the conclusion of the 1974-75 campaign.

Tarasov, whose first Olympic adventure ended with a bronze medal for the Soviet Union at Squaw Valley in 1960, totaled 22 wins and two ties from 27 games at the Winter Olympic Games for the USSR.

A pay dispute led to Tarasov’s dismissal as the national team coach shortly following the 1972 Sapporo Games. Soviet hockey players received not only gold medals from International Olympic Committee officials, but cash bonuses from USSR authorities, as well. Tarasov felt that the time had come for coaches to collect a monetary reward, too.

The officials in the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation, if not those in the Politburo, as well, disagreed.

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Four Soviets, Three Golds

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Left : ALEXANDER RAGULIN, the battleship on the blue line

Right : ANATOLI FIRSOV, the highly-skilled scoring machine

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A 5-2 defeat of Eastern-bloc rival CZECHOSLOVAKIA at Sapporo in 1972 clinched a third successive Olympic title for the SOVIET UNION.

The triumph resulted in a fourth set of gold medals for the USSR national ice hockey team in only five trips to the Winter Games.

Whereas the 19-year-old USSR goaltender VLADISLAV TRETIAK pocketed his first-ever Olympic gold medal in Japan, three other veteran Soviet internationals became champions at the Winter Games for no less than a third time.

High-scoring CSKA Moscow left wing ANATOLI FIRSOV (30) in addition to CSKA Moscow defensemen ALEXANDER RAGULIN (30) and VIKTOR KUZKIN (31) as well as Dynamo Moscow rearguard VITALY DAVYDOV (32) accomplished that which no other ice hockey player has been able to surpass since.

The four skaters competed on three Soviet teams which compiled a record of 18 wins against but one loss and a single tie at the Winter Olympic Games from 1964 thru 1972.

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Sologubov Stopped By

An artist's rendition of USSR defenseman NIKOLAI SOLOGUBOV

An artist's rendition of USSR defenseman NIKOLAI SOLOGUBOV

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Trailing by a goal with but twenty minutes to play in their final match against Czechoslovakia at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, coach JACK RILEY’s United States squad greeted an intriguing guest between periods at Squaw Valley.

The captain of the USSR national team, NIKOLAI SOLOGUBOV, arrived and, unable to speak English, began to employ hand signals in an effort to provide aid to the Americans. The 35-year-old CSKA Moscow man was suggesting that the U.S. skaters, in the altitude of the northeastern California mountains, should take oxygen. Although at first unable to understand, the Americans ultimately were able to secure an oxygen tank and accept Sologubov’s advice.

The United States, suitably refreshed, stormed back with six unanswered third period goals to down the Czechoslovaks, who took no oxygen, 9-4.

Some say Sologubov appeared in the spirit of goodwill and sportsmanship that is part of the Olympic ideal.

Not to discredit the Soviet captain, but the theory is shaky at best. The USSR, standing on five points, were set to play a powerful Canada later in the day. Meanwhile, the Czechoslovaks, having four points, could have moved ahead of the Soviet Union with a victory over the United States.

Ultimately, both Eastern European rivals lost on the final day — this left the USSR with the set of bronze medals.

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If VYACHESLAV FETISOV was the Soviet answer to BOBBY ORR, then NIKOLAI SOLOGUBOV, if not quite as rough, was certainly the USSR’s version of EDDIE SHORE.

The original offensive threat from the Soviet blueline, Sologubov (5 ga, 1 go 8 as, 9 pts) earned his third career selection for Best Defenseman by the International Ice Hockey Federation Directorate at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley for the bronze medalist from the Soviet Union.

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Bobrov Set Soviet Benchmark

VSEVOLOD BOBROV (9) scored one goal in the USSR's 4-0 victory over the United States at the 1956 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

VSEVOLOD BOBROV (9) scored one goal in the USSR's 4-0 victory over the United States at the 1956 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

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VSEVOLOD BOBROV was the first great goal-scorer in the history of Soviet ice hockey.

Bobrov was also, like his contemporary, the Czechoslovak scoring star VLASTIMIL BUBNIK, a two-sport athlete who excelled in soccer, as well.

In fact, Bobrov began his athletic career as a soccer player with the army club CSKA Moscow after serving in the Soviet military during World War II. The 22-year-old led the Soviet league with 24 goals for CSKA during the 1945 season and was also invited to join Dynamo Moscow for their famous tour of Great Britain in November of that year. Bobrov scored six goals on the tour as Dynamo played top British clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Glasgow Rangers.

Bobrov began playing hockey, as well, for CSKA Moscow a year later.

In 1950, Bobrov had miraculously escaped death. The plane carrying the VVS MVO Moscow hockey team, the club of the Soviet air force, crashed on approach to the airport at Sverdlovsk in adverse weather and killed everyone on board. Bobrov, who missed the flight, later claimed his alarm clock malfunctioned and, therefore, saved his life.

Bobrov actually made his debut at the Olympics with the Soviet national soccer team at the Summer Games of Helsinki in 1952. Now 29, Bobrov scored five goals in three games at Helsinki. Bobrov notched a hat trick in the famous 5-5 draw with Yugoslavia; the Soviets by four goals with just seventeen minutes left before storming back to tie the game.

Bobrov was a particularly lethal goal-scorer in ice hockey, however, and totaled an amazing 250 goals in just 130 Soviet league games for his career.

Bobrov added another 94 goals in 59 games for the USSR national team.

At the 1956 Winter Olympic Games at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Bobrov scored nine goals in seven games as the Soviet Union captured their first-ever gold medal in ice hockey. Bobrov’s goal total tied for the tournament lead with Canada’s GERARD THEBERGE.

In the Soviets’ second game in Italian Alps, a 10-3 victory over Switzerland, Bobrov bagged four goals in all. This mark was equaled twenty years later by VLADIMIR SHADRIN at Innsbruck in the qualification game against the host nation.

But never beaten.

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Cortina ’56 : USSR – YouTube Footage

The very first Olympic champion ice hockey squad from the USSR

The very first Olympic champion ice hockey squad from the USSR

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The Soviet Union sent its first ever Olympic team to the Winter Games at Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Alps in 1956.

The New York Times would write at the conclusion of the games, “There is one area where the Russians have shown results bordering on the impossible and that area is ice hockey.”

The USSR won all seven of their games and outscored their opposition 40 goals to nine on the way to their historic first set of Olympic gold medals.

WORLD HOCKEY presents a 2:31 clip featuring the Soviets in action against both the United States and Canada in their final two games :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kip6pMfIn3o

In the first minute of the clip, the Soviets skate against white-shirted Canada on the final day. The USSR prevailed 2-0, largely on the strength of the stocking-capped NIKOLAI PUCHKOV in goal.

Following, in color, are highlights from the Soviet Union’s 4-0 win over the United States. The big hit on Soviet star VSEVOLOD BOBROV (9) at the 1:08 mark is worth the look.

The last minute or so, again in color, returns to the USSR – Canada match.

At the 1:57 mark, Dynamo Moscow’s VALENTIN KUZIN (12) seals Canada’s fate with the second Soviet goal, which comes just 37 seconds into the third period of play.

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Unified Team Ended Era

The Unified Team's EVGENY DAVYDOV, credited with being the first player off the bench at the infamous Piestany Punch-Up in 1987, waves to the crowd at the 1992 Winter Olympics in France. Three Unified Team players --- Davydov, Igor Kravchuk and Dmitri Mironov --- joined NHL clubs immediately after the Albertville Games. 20 of 23 Unified Team members ultimately skated in the National Hockey League.

The Unified Team's EVGENY DAVYDOV, credited with being the first player off the bench at the infamous Piestany Punch-Up in 1987, waves to the crowd at the 1992 Winter Olympics in France. Three Unified Team players --- Davydov, Igor Kravchuk and Dmitri Mironov --- joined NHL clubs immediately after the Albertville Games. 20 of 23 Unified Team members ultimately skated in the National Hockey League.

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A referendum for the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was held in March of 1991 with nine of fifteen republics voting in favor of such. Before the New Union Treaty could be signed, however, hardline Communist Party members in the government and KGB staged an attempt to take power so as to reverse the reforms of Soviet leader MIKHAIL GORBACHEV in August. That same month, the republics of Estonia and Latvia declared their independence (joining Lithuania, who had done so in 1990).

On December 8, 1991, the presidents of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine signed the BELAVEZHA ACCORDS. The Accords formally dissolved the Soviet Union and announced the COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES would take its place.

On December 21, 1991, delegates from all the former Soviet republics with the exception of Georgia signed the ALMA-ATA PROTOCOL, which basically confirmed the Belavezha Accords and addressed practical matters with respect to the dismemberment and dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

On Christmas Day of 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the USSR, declared the office no longer existed and then transferred all governing power to the president of Russia, BORIS YELTSIN.

Exactly one day later, the highest governmental body of the USSR, the SUPREME SOVIET, officially dissolved itself. It is this date that historians typically mark as the formal end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a political state. 

Many of the former Soviet Union’s elite had already departed the disintegrating USSR for lucrative contracts with Western clubs long before the official end came. At the time of the Calgary Games four years previously, it had been projected that junior national team stars ALEXANDER MOGILNY, SERGEI FEDOROV and PAVEL BURE would constitute the next great troika to carry the Soviet Union in the 1990s. By the arrival of the Albertville Games, all three were already lacing their skates in the National Hockey League.

In the off-season of 1989, Soviet hockey officials began to allow sizeable numbers of skaters to head West. Over the course of the next two seasons, 34 USSR national team players alone left the Soviet Union. To start the 1991-92 campaign, another 23 national team players took off including the likes of VALERY KAMENSKY, VLADIMIR KONSTANTINOV and VYACHESLAV KOZLOV.

Long-time Soviet national team coach VIKTOR TIKHONOV still had enough talent left over in Feburary of 1992 to put together a typically-strong side, who competed under the moniker of ‘UNIFIED TEAM’ at Albertville.

Only the CCCP logo was in absentia. The rest — the lipstick-red uniforms, the authoritarian coach as well as the high-calibre of skill — was still there. As were the results on the scoreboard.

Old foe Czechoslovakia, at their final Olympic tournament as well, tripped the Unified Team 4-3 in the round-robin. Once the quarterfinal stage (appearing at the Winter Olympic Games for the first time ever) arrived, however, there was little doubt who the champion squad were. The Unified Team’s 3-1 victory over Canada in the first official Gold Medal Match simply certified such convictions.

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Sarajevo ’84: Kozhevnikov Recaptures Gold

ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) scored the goal that gave the Soviet Union their sixth set of Olympic gold medals for ice hockey. Kozhevnikov, who collected another gold medal at the Calgary Games in 1988, played briefly in the West for the Durham Wasps in Great Britain as well as AIK Stockholm in Sweden.

ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) scored the goal that gave the Soviet Union their sixth set of Olympic gold medals for ice hockey. Kozhevnikov, who collected another gold medal at the Calgary Games in 1988, played briefly in the West for the Durham Wasps in Great Britain as well as AIK Stockholm in Sweden.

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Sarajevo, 1984. The final day of the medal round at the ice hockey competition. For the third time in four tournaments at the Winter Games, the winner-take-all clash between Eastern bloc arch-rivals CZECHOSLOVAKIA and the SOVIET UNION will determine the Olympic champion.

Both the white-shirted Czechoslovaks and the traditionally red-shirted Soviets enter the match unbeaten and untied seeking to erase disappointing memories from the Lake Placid Games four years prior. Each side boast a balanced squad featuring explosive offense and stingy defense; the Czechoslovaks benefited from the switch to Sparta Prague’s JAROMIR SINDEL in goal following their Olympic opener versus Norway. The USSR, meanwhile, has enjoyed the burst of form from CSKA Moscow right wing NIKOLAI DROZDETSKY (13), who has tallied 10 goals from six games at Sarajevo thus far.

Six and a half minutes in, the Soviets stamp their authority on the game.

Shortly after Drozdetsky misses a wide-open net, the Soviet regroup in center ice as ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) gathers a pass from VIKTOR TUMENEV (28) at the red line and charges the Czechoslovak blue line. Confronted by a pair of defensemen, the 25-year-old Spartak Moscow wing winds up and deploys an always un-Soviet-like slapshot. The puck catches the crossbar and ricochets off Sindel’s shoulder into the Czechoslovak net for a 1-0 Soviet lead :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAD51MXcXjI&feature=related

A little over a minute into the second period, VLADIMIR KRUTOV added a second Soviet goal which proved to be surplus to requirements with USSR goaltender VLADISLAV TRETIAK absorbing 21 Czechoslovak shots for the game.

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Although a regular top goal-scorer in the Soviet elite league, Kozhevnikov never did command a regular place with the USSR national team. Despite six goals at the 1982 IIHF World Championships in Finland, the would-be Calgary Flames’ NHL draft pick (1985, 11th round, # 227 overall) did not make the Soviet team for the 1983 IIHF event in West Germany. For his career, the native of Penza appeared at four major international tournaments (24 ga, 10 go 9 as, 19 pts) for the Soviet Union.

Kozhevnikov finished among the top scorers at Sarajevo with three goals and nine points in seven games.

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Tretiak’s Triumphant Ending

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While the final seconds wane in Sarajevo, defenseman SERGEI STARIKOV (12), the man whose glaring mistake paved the way for the most colossal upset in all of sport, circles and stoops to scoop the puck at the Soviet goal line. With time expired, the balance of the USSR national team empty the bench and flock their puck tamer, VLADISLAV TRETIAK (20). As the uncharacteristic smiles on the Soviet players’ faces might indicate, gone are the ghosts of Lake Placid past as Czechoslovakia fall 2-0 on the final day at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo :

The final 2:30 of the 1984 Gold Medal Match :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9mkRTShz18

The USSR collected its sixth gold medal at Sarajevo in 1984 since joining the Olympic movement twenty-eight years earlier. The latest Soviet triumph resulted in a third Olympic gold medal for Tretiak and placed the 31-year-old in very select company. The CSKA Moscow goaltender became just the fifth player ever, all from the USSR, to be awarded three gold medals for ice hockey at the Winter Games.

Two bad goals surrendered in twenty minutes had earned Tretiak a seat on the bench after the first period of the USSR’s dramatic 4-3 loss to the United States at the 1980 Olympics. After the match, as was to be expected, much criticism had been directed at Tretiak’s play between the pipes. Although Tretiak backstopped the Soviets to three IIHF World Championships and a Canada Cup trophy against the very best of the National Hockey League following the Lake Placid debacle, there could only be one way to completely redeem himself for the greater glory of the Soviet Union.

Like his countryman NIKOLAI PUCHKOV at Cortina many years earlier, Tretiak turned in clean sheets for the Soviets’ final two matches with blankings of Canada and Czechoslovkia in the medal round at Sarajevo. Although Tretiak’s appearance in Yugoslavia was his fourth at the Winter Games, the goose eggs were the first two solo shutouts of the veteran’s 19-game Olympic career.

Tretiak, who ended his active playing career after the season, allowed only one goal in each of his other four games at Sarajevo and finished with a sparkling 0.67 goals-against-average at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.

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