Archive for 1988 OG Calgary

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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Laine Lowers Boom On Canada

ERKKI LAINE, a member of both the 1984 and 1988 Finnish Olympic teams, was the top goal-scorer in Sweden's elite league for IF Leksands in 1980-81 and BK Farjestad Karlstad in 1984-85. Laine also led Finland's second division in goals for Reipas Lahti during the 1975-76 season.

ERKKI LAINE, a member of both the 1984 and 1988 Finnish Olympic teams, was the top goal-scorer in Sweden's elite league for IF Leksands in 1980-81 and BK Farjestad Karlstad in 1984-85. Laine also led Finland's second division in goals for Reipas Lahti during the 1975-76 season.

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A solitary goal versus Poland on in the opening match and struggles to score against Switzerland on their second outing should have served as some kind of warning CANADA were fit to be taken as the host nation faced-off with FINLAND on the third day of Group B round-robin play at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

The Finns, themselves, had actually stumbled against the Swiss in a 2-1 loss on opening day. This result left Finland feeling a bit behind the eight-ball, perhaps, in a B pool which also included the medal contenders from Sweden.

And so, it was a Swedish elite league player, ERKKI LAINE (17) of BK Farjestad Karlstad, who came out firing with a pair of goals in the first period of Finland’s match with Canada :

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

Ex-New York Ranger RAIMO HELMINEN (14) of Ilves Tampere, one of six former NHL players in Finland’s line-up, was the architect of both of Laine’s goals.

Leading the Finnish charge down the right wing on a two-on-one opposed by Canada’s NHL defenseman TIM WATTERS (2) of the Winnipeg Jets, Helminen hands Laine a perfect saucer pass for the right-handed shooting left wing to one-time past SEAN BURKE in the Canadian goal roughly thirteen minutes into the contest.

Less than two minutes later, Helminen again heads a rush, this time on the left, into the Canadian zone and drops the puck to the trailing Laine. The 31-year-old two-time Swedish Elitserien goal-scoring champion, hooked from behind, cuts back into the slot and releases a wrist shot that somehow works its way through the legs of Burke.

Finland added a third goal in the final minute of the first period and never looked back on the road to a critical 3-1 round-robin victory over Canada.

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Calgary ’88 : Doors Officially Open

Former West German NHL defenseman UDO KIESSLING (4) tangles with his opposite number, TONY STILES of Canada, at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. Kiessling contested exactly one game for the Minnesota North Stars during the 1981-82 campaign.

Former West German NHL defenseman UDO KIESSLING (4) tangles with his opposite number, TONY STILES of Canada, at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. Kiessling contested exactly one game for the Minnesota North Stars during the 1981-82 campaign.

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The fiasco that was the player eligibility controversy at the Sarajevo Games of 1984 led directly to the repeal of the age-old edict banning ‘professionals’ from competition at the Winter Olympics four years later in Calgary.

“There are no more restrictions. Canada can use WAYNE GRETZKY if it wants,” declared the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, DR. GUENTHER SABETZKI, declared on October 20, 1986.

The nations affected by this new ruling took full advantage of the new regulations. Not surprisingly, host nation Canada, the historical home of the sport of ice hockey, led the way at the 1988 Calgary Games with the most players listing National Hockey League experience on the resume :

  • 13 — Canada
  •   6 — Finland
  •   6 — Sweden
  •   3 — West Germany
  •   2 — France
  •   2 — United States

The UNITED STATES fielded two players on its national team who had been assigned for the season by NHL clubs, former Providence College goaltender CHRIS TERRERI from the New Jersey Devils organization and one-time University of New Hampshire forward STEVE LEACH of the Washington Capitals.

FINLAND, meanwhile, fielded the former European NHLer with the highest profile — REIJO RUOTSALAINEN. The 27-year-old defenseman, who under then under contract to Swedish club HV 71 Jonkoping, was an All-Star Game participant for the New York Rangers and a Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers.

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Canada Carried Host Nation Hopes

Stanley Cup winner STEVE TAMBELLINI takes on a Swede at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Tambellini was a member of the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup champion in 1980. The 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center totaled one goal and three assists for Canada at the Calgary Games.

Stanley Cup winner STEVE TAMBELLINI takes on a Swede at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Tambellini was a member of the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup champion in 1980. The 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center totaled one goal and three assists for Canada at the Calgary Games.

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As luck would have it, CANADA, who had for so long been prohibited from engaging National Hockey League professionals past or present, were now free to pick any player on the very occasion the historical home of ice hockey would host the prestigous Winter Olympic Games in 1988.

In all, the Canadian national team came to Calgary carrying thirteen players (out of 23) with NHL experience. Two of the most-recent Stanley Cup champions were on board — defenseman RANDY GREGG ‘retired’ from the Edmonton Oilers so as to skate at his second Winter Games while goaltender ANDY MOOG was embroiled in a contract dispute with the NHL club. SERGE BOISVERT, who had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup following the 1985-86 season for his work with the Montreal Canadiens, was another ex-NHLer in the fold for Canadian coach DAVE KING.

Three current National Hockey Leaguers were added to King’s contingent three days before the start of the Olympics to join two other players previously sent by Canadian NHL clubs. These were the so-called ‘reinforcements’. While the National Hockey League never had any intention of suspending operations to allow its players to compete, the league office did state that NHL clubs would be free to ‘loan’ players for the Olympics if they so desired.

Forwards BRIAN BRADLEY of the Calgary Flames and KEN YAREMCHUK of the Toronto Maple Leafs were assigned to Canada’s national team during the season; defenseman TIM WATTERS (like Gregg, appearing for a second Olympic tournament) of the Winnipeg Jets in addition to Vancouver Canucks center STEVE TAMBELLINI and Calgary Flames right wing JIM PEPLINSKI were released by their clubs on the eve of the competition.

Expectations for host nation Canada’s ice hockey team were high heading into the Calgary Games. Particularly after King’s charges captured the prestigous Izvestia Cup, often viewed as the Olympic dress rehearsal, in Moscow over the Christmas holidays.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED went so far as to project Canada the 1988 tournament winner.

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Very First Penalty Shot Shootout At Olympic Games

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PAULIN BORDELEAU in the shirt of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks 

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The penalty shot shootout initially appeared on stage at the Winter Olympic Games in 1988. Although the ‘medal round’ format was still in use where tie games were possible at Calgary, the consolation round provided a different set of circumstances. Once-and-done final placement matches had begun at Lake Placid in 1980 but had gone begging for a draw.

And so, eight years later, FRANCE and NORWAY obliged in the official game for 11th place with a wild 6-6 deadlock through three periods. The French had been up 5-1 with five minutes to go in the second period and let a 6-3 final frame advantage escape, as well. Ten minutes of overtime, in spite of a goal every five minutes on average through regulation play, produced nothing but the very first shootout in Olympic history.

In the shootout at the Father David Bauer Arena, France scored first through PAULIN BORDELEAU, a 35-year-old who had contested 183 games (33 go 56 as, 89 pts) in the National Hockey League for the Vancouver Canucks during the mid-1970s. The native of Rouyn-Noranda also played three seasons in the World Hockey Association for the Quebec Nordiques (235 ga, 101 go 76 as, 177 pts) before crossing the Atlantic to skate in Europe. Bordeleau spent eight years in France with HC Tours, HC Megeve and HC Mont-Blanc before retiring after the Olympics (6 ga, 2 go 2 as, 4 pts) to become a coach.

France added another goal from DEREK HAAS, a 32-year-old native Canadian who had competed in 30 World Hockey Association games (5 go 9 as, 14 pts) for the old Calgary Cowboys during the 1975-76 season. Haas, who played four seasons in the American Hockey League with the Springfield Indians (244 ga, 66 go 126 as, 192 pts), also had a season with West German Bundesliga club EC Koeln before embarking on a long career in France’s elite league.

Norway, meanwhile, failed on all four of their attempts, allowing the French to finish as notable 2-0 shootout winners as well as avoid a last place at the Calgary Games in 1988.

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Calgary ’88 : Fetisov Slams The Door

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Leadership, as well as skill, were on full display from legendary VYACHESLAV FETISOV for all the world to see at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary with the long-anticipated Olympic rematch between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The Soviets stormed to a 6-2 lead after two periods, which prompted the powers-that-be in charge at ABC Sports to switch their prime-time coverage to other events. Television executives were soon left red-faced, however, when the USSR somehow allowed the USA to claw their way back into the contest. A goal from the University of Minnesota’s TODD OKERLUND (11) brought the scrappy Americans to within sight of a tie with just under eleven minutes to go in the game.

In 1980, Fetisov was a talented 21-year-old at Lake Placid. By 1988 at Calgary, however, the 29-year-old defenseman had long-since undertaken the USSR captaincy. With time dwindling and the Americans positioning themselves to pull their goaltender in favor of an extra skater, the Soviet leader takes matters into his own hands :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKFrP2UJL1o&feature=related

Following a SERGEI MAKAROV (24) rush, Fetisov (2) senses the opporutnity and joins the play at the blue line to receive a pass from VLADIMIR KRUTOV (9). With a head of steam, the Soviet skipper stickhandles past two American defenders with seemingly effortless ease. On the backhand, Fetisov casually splits the pads of United States goaltender CHRIS TERRERI with precision to put the result beyond doubt for the USSR.

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