Archive for 1976 OG Innsbruck

76 OG : Romania Registers B Pool Title


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After scoring two goals to help Romania pull off a monumental 5-4 upset over the United States (a team which included several National Hockey League and World Hockey Association professional players) at the 1977 IIHF World Championships in Vienna, Austria, national team star DORU TUREANU of Dinamo Bucharest was reportedly offered a lucrative contract by the contemporary NHL powerhouse Montreal Canadiens, the star-studded cast in the middle of winning four Stanley Cup titles in succession.
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Spearheaded by a hat trick from national team star DORU TUREANU of Dinamo Bucharest on the final day of the competition, the Romanians clinched the mythical championship of the B Pool tournament at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games with a dramatic victory. A third goal of the contest from Tureanu with just over four minutes remaining in the match enabled ROMANIA to edge Switzerland 4-3 at the Messehalle in Innsbruck and finish two points clear in the standings ahead of host nation Austria. Truth be told, the Romanians, who only lost narrowly to neighboring Yugoslavia, would have done with a draw in their final B Pool round-robin match against the Swiss.

In part because the matches, themselves, had been traditionally attended poorly over the years, the B Pool tournament was eliminated entirely from the Olympic program after the 1976 Winter Games at Innsbruck; the ice hockey competition for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games to be held at Lake Placid, however, was expanded to include twelve nations at the final tournament.

B POOL final standings
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4 wins, 1 losses … 23/15 gf/a …… ROMANIA
3 wins, 2 losses … 18/14 gf/a …… AUSTRIA
3 wins, 2 losses … 20/18 gf/a …… JAPAN
3 wins, 2 losses … 22/19 gf/a …… YUGOSLAVIA
2 wins, 3 losses … 24/22 gf/a …… SWITZERLAND
0 wins, 5 losses … 19/38 gf/a …… BULGARIA

leading scorers (B Pool contests only)
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5 go – 5 as … 10 pts … Doru TUREANU, Romania
5 go – 3 as ….. 8 pts … Franc ZBONTAR, Yugoslavia
5 go – 2 as ….. 7 pts … Toni NEININGER, Switzerland
4 go – 3 as ….. 7 pts … Hideo SAKURAI, Japan
3 go – 4 as ….. 7 pts … Eduard PANA, Romania

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Messe Innsbruck


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The Tyrolean Alps which surround the Inn Valley provide the backdrop in this magnificent photo of the MESSE INNSBRUCK complex, the site where the final B Pool tournament was contested for the hockey competition at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games hosted by the city of Innsbruck, Austria.
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With the schedule of the main ice arena in the Austrian Alpine city of Innsbruck, the OLYMPIAHALLE, already completely full as a result of figure skating and ice hockey (A Pool) competitions, the organizers for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games, as had been done a dozen years earlier when the city had first played host to the Winter Olympics, once again made use of the MESSEHALLE facility to stage the tournament for the B Pool in ice hockey.

The B Pool, to review, was comprised of the six countries — Austria, Bulgaria, Japan, Romania, Switzerland and Yugoslavia — that had lost their respective Olympic qualification matches; those particular contests, of course, had been staged at the much larger Olympiahalle in Innsbruck on the second and third day of February in 1976.

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Located within walking distance of the city’s historic old town center, the Messe Innsbruck is a convention center complex that has always and continues to occasionally host sporting events in addition to a more traditional program of business exhibitions and trade shows, corporate and product presentations, art exhibitions and social events, etc.

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The Messe Innsbruck complex, a site which now consists of 40,000 square meters and, since 2004, is owned and operated by a local company known as the Congress and Messe Innsbruck GmbH, underwent an extensive renovation which began in 2010 and was completed in the following year.

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Messe Innsbruck, Curling, 2012 Youth Winter Olympics
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In December of 2008, the decision was made to have the city of Innsbruck host the very first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games. A very logical conlusion considering all the requisite infrastructure to stage the athletic events was already well in place for the historical Alpine location. Although the ice hockey competition was held at the Tirol Wasserkraft Arena at the modern Olympiaworld complex, the Messehalle Innsbruck, once again, played its part.

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76 OG : Soviet Union Hammers Host Nation Austria


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Soviet Union center and two-time Olympic gold medalist VLADIMIR SHADRIN (19) of Spartak Moscow, who was later permitted by officials to skate several seasons abroad in Japan, scored 45 goals in 71 games for the U.S.S.R. national team while appearing at ten major international tournaments in his career.
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And so, one final qualification match for the ice hockey tournament at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games was yet to be contested at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck. The mighty, three-time defending Olympic champion champion of the UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS were scheduled to meet host nation AUSTRIA, who had been under the direction of a one-time Soviet Olympian for the past few seasons now. Despite this factor in addition to the home ice advantage, however, Austrian prospects for a shocking result were, realistically, non-existant.

Once upon a time, Austria fielded a competitive national team that claimed European titles in both 1927 and 1931. The Austrians also earned bronze medals at the annual IIHF World Championships in 1931 and again following the Second World War in 1947 but started to decline even before the Soviet Union began entering international ice hockey tournaments in the mid-1950s. Austria were already regular B Pool contestants by the start of the 1960s and were soundly defeated by Finland 8-2 on home ice at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck during the qualification round of the 1964 Winter Games.

YURI BAULIN, who spent 10 seasons playing both center and defense for the powerhouse army club CSKA Moscow while earning a bronze medal with the U.S.S.R. squad at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, had taken the reins of the Austria national team to begin the 1973/74 campaign. But at the B Pool of the 1974 IIHF World Championships in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, the Austrians ended up last in the standings and, thus, were demoted to the C Pool where they would only finish a disappointing third at Sofia in Bulgaria a year later. Nevertheless, Baulin was also brought on board by AC Klagenfurt to begin the 1974/75 season and succeeded in steering the club to the Bundesliga title in his second term there.

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Austria center FRANZ VOVES (16) of ATSE Graz, who appeared at seven World Championships in addition to the 1976 Winter Olympics while skating 75 contests with the national team of Oesterreich in his career, later went into politics and has been the Landeshauptmann der Steiermark (the Governor of the Austrian State of Styria) since 2005; Voves, along with Soviet player/coach Viktor Kungurtsev, claimed a Bundesliga title with ATSE Graz in 1975.
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As expected, the Soviets ended up steamrolling their hosts at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck. Oddly enough, it was the Spartak Moscow forward line of left wing ALEXANDER YAKUSHEV, center VLADIMIR SHADRIN and right wing VIKTOR SHALIMOV who scored the first three goals less than ten minutes into the qualfication match against the Austrians. Baulin, of course, had been the trainer for the talented Spartak troika during the 1971/72 campaign in the Soviet Supreme League.

In fact, the Spartak combination would account for seven goals, alone, at the Olympiahalle with Shadrin leading the way with four tallies, himself. SERGEI KAPUSTIN, the soon-to-be 23-year-old from Soviet Wings, added to Austrian woes by recording the hat trick while Shalimov, the veteran Dyanmo Moscow right wing ALEXANDER MALTSEV and CSKA Moscow center VLADIMIR PETROV all scored two goals, apiece. Altogether, eight different Soviet skaters put their names on the scoresheet as the U.S.S.R. completely overwhelmed Austria 16-3 in Innsbruck.

Notice of serious intent to remain Olympic champion had been served.

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76 OG : United States Outlasts Yugoslavia


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Yugoslavia goaltender JANEZ ALBRECHT (20) keeps a sharp eye on the puck bouncing along the ice just behind defender KAREL SAVIC (3) as United States forward WILLIAM “Buzz” SCHNEIDER (14) from the University of Minnesota whisks through the goal crease during the qualification match at the Olympiahalle for the medal round of the ice hockey tournament at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games from Innsbruck, Austria.
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“We want to televise alot of hockey back home … we can’t be in the B Pool,” legendary sports announcer CURT GOWDY, in the Austrian Alps to cover the Winter Olympic Games for the American Broadcasting Company, advised the American coach, BOB JOHNSON, the night before the next day’s qualification round match between the UNITED STATES and YUGOSLAVIA at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck.

Suitably unnerved by the cauldron of pressure that is the ice hockey competition at the Olympics, the American team promptly skated out and conceded the first goal to the underdog Yugoslavs just about seven minutes in with JANEZ PETAC doing the honors. But the highest-rated U.S. player at Innsbruck as per the annual National Hockey League Draft, Minnesota North Stars’ fourth round selection STEVE JENSEN from Michigan Tech University, equalized exactly four minutes later, though. And then Chicago Black Hawks prospect STEVE ALLEY, an NCAA champion with Johnson at the University of Wisconsin in 1973, handed the United States a lead at 17:17 of the opening period which would never be relinquished.

STEVE SERTICH, the diminutive, former Colorado College forward who had spent the 74/75 campaign lacing his skates with EV Fuessen in the West German Bundesliga, stretched the American advantage to 3-1 about four and a half minutes into the second period. Yugoslavia, who had actually managed to work out a wild 6-6 tie with the United States in the B Pool of 1973 IIHF World Championships at Graz in Austria previously, cut the deficit to one with a goal from IGNAC KAVEC approaching the midway point of the match, however. But Sertich, himself, responded with a second goal less than a minute later at the 28:51 mark to throw a monkey wrench into Yugoslav rally plans.

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The 1976 Canada Cup jersey of United States forward DAN BOLDUC, the Harvard University product who signed for the New England Whalers at the conclusion of the ’76 Winter Games at Innsbruck; the native of Waterville, Maine, was one of just two U.S. Olympians, with Steve Jensen being the other, who also made the American team for the inaugural edition of the Canada Cup.
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A third goal from Sertich with under five minutes remaining in the middle period provided the native of Virginia, Minnesota, with a memorable hat trick at the Olympiahalle. Yet another strike less than 60 seconds later by DOUG ROSS out of Bowling Green, set up by Sertich, boosted the score favoring the United States to 6-2. And with that, the qualification match refereed by VIKTOR DOMBROVSKY of the Soviet Union and RAIMO SEPPONEN of Finland was all but decided as the two teams heading to their respective dressing rooms for the second intermission.

Yugoslavia, once again, halved the margin with a goal from TOMAZ LEPSA seven minutes into the final frame. But Harvard University product DAN BOLDUC, an undrafted winger hoping to impress the professional scouts in the Austria Alps with a strong showing at the Innsbruck Games, bagged his first Olympic goal with a little less than eight minutes to play. And former University of Minnesota right wing BUZZ SCHNEDIER, who led the United States with eight goals at the 1975 IIHF World Championships in West Germany, scored one last time for the U.S. at 53:31 after a pass from college teammate ROBBY HARRIS, who totaled three assists in the game with the Yugoslavs.

EDVARD HAFNER would put yet another puck past United States goaltender BLAINE COMSTOCK, the 26-year-old, one-time Bemidji State backstop who was now playing amateur hockey for the Warroad Lakers in northern Minnesota, just twenty-three seconds later but a dramatic comeback was not on the cards for Yugoslavia. Although the two teams had again combined to scored a dozen goals, this 8-4 result sent the Americans through to the final medal round. ABC-TV, meanwhile, breathed a tremendous sigh of relief.

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76 OG : Finland Flounders Early, Finally Flattens Japan


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MATTI RAUTIAINEN, who played for three Tampere city clubs of Koo Vee, Ilves and Tappara in the Finnish elite league over the course of his 15-year career, only ever represented the national team of Finland at four major international tournaments (28 games, 12 goals) from 1976 thru 1979.
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The Opening Ceremony at the historic Bergiselstadion to formally initiate the proceedings at the 1976 Winter Olympics was still a day in coming but the ice hockey competition for the Innsbruck Games was already well underway inside the Olympiahalle … three more places for the medal round had yet to be determined as FINLAND and JAPAN prepared to drop the puck and start the second day of play in the qualification round.

Whereas the Finns were legitimate contenders to fashion at least a bronze medal, the Japanese arrived in the Austrian Alps seeded 10th out of 12 teams competing at the ’76 Innsbruck Games. Still, the underdogs on skates from the Land of the Rising Sun succeed in getting the audience’s attention at the Olympiahalle by holding Finland scoreless for the first 20 minutes of the match. Furthermore, Japan had actually gone in front thanks to a goal by HIDEO URABE of Oji Seishi Tomakomai with a little over two and a half minutes remaining in the opening session.

20-year-old MATTI RAUTIAINEN of Koo Vee Tampere, one of six players on trainer SEPPO LIITSOLA’s 18-man roster making their debut for Finland at a major international tournament, restored a measure of order for Suomi by equalizing two minutes into the second period. But, amazing enough, the Japanese continued to stay even with their more accomplished adversaries until half of the qualification contest had come and gone. At this point, though, the Finns awoke from their slumber to net three goals in as many minutes via PERTTI KOIVULAHTI of Tappara Tampere and two more from Rautiainen, both set up by 1975 Boston Bruins draft pick MATTI HAGMAN of IFK Helsinki.

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JORMA VEHMANEN, who spent almost all of his career with Lukko Rauma (right) save one season with HJK Helsinki (73/74), appeared at ten major international tournaments (70 ga, 10 go, 18 pts) for Suomi from 1966 thru 1976; altogether, Vehmanen contested 175 games and counted 36 goals for the national team of Finland over the course of his career.
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Still another rookie, 23-year-old TAPIO KOSKINEN of Assat Pori, capped off the five-goal outburst which opened the final frame with his second strike at 48:04 as Rautiainen, yet again, HENRY LEPPA of Jokerit Helsinki and 30-year-old veteran JORMA VEHMANEN of Lukko Rauma all put their names on the scoresheet in the third period at the Olympiahalle, as well.

MINORU ITO of Iwakura Tomakomai, appearing at the ice hockey competition of the Winter Games for the third time in his career, added a second goal for Japan with eight minutes to go but this would not prevent the Finns from finally reaching double digits in the waning stages as the ambitious Rautiainen registered his fifth goal of this Olympic qualification contest while Vehmanen notched his second with two minutes remaining to leave the final result at 11-2.

Finland, as expected, moved forward into the final round for the medals at the ’76 Innsbruck Games.

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76 OG : West Germany Waltzes Past Switzerland


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After competing in the B Pool at the Sapporo Games four years earlier, WEST GERMANY were thoroughly satisfied with the prospect of facing off against neighboring SWITZERLAND at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck for the right to play in the top tier of the ice hockey tournament proper for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.

West Germany were enjoying a six-game winning streak at the World Championships and Winter Olympics opposite the Swiss, including the 5-0 triumph by the Bundesrepublik Deutschland over die Schweiz at the 1972 Sapporo Games in Japan four years earlier. Indeed, the Federal Republic of Germany had not bowed to Switzerland since losing 6-1 in the B Pool of the 1965 IIHF World Championships at Pori, Finland. Following the 3-3 draw between the two countries at the 1954 IIHF World Championships in Stockholm, the West Germans had become dominant in the regional rivalry while winning ten of the last eleven contests at the World Championships proper heading into the Olympic clash in the Austrian Alps.

Most recent, of course, had been the decisive 8-3 defeat West Germany had inflicted upon Switzerland on home ice at Munich’s Olympiahalle in the B Pool of the 1975 IIHF World Championships.

Nevertheless, the Swiss were hoping that forward WALTER DUERST of HC Davos, the 25-year-old who topped the B Pool in 1975 with eight goals, might help engineer a surprise in the qualification match with the neighboring West Germans. Duerst had also finished as the top scorer for the B Pool in 1975 with a dozen points in seven contests while edging out West Germany Olympic captain ALOIS SCHLODER of EV Landshut (3 go, 8 as) and his titanic Bundesliga teammate, ERICH KUEHNHACKL, as well as Romania standout Doru Tureanu (both 6 go, 4 as). However, neither Duerst nor Switzerland would have much success against their long-time nemesis to the north at Innsbruck.

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West Germany forward LORENZ FUNK (9), who celebrated Bundesliga titles with EC Bad Tolz (’66) and SC Berlin (’74 and ’76), appeared with the national team at the Winter Olympics three times (’68,’72,’76) and the IIHF World Championships on another thirteen occasions from 1966 thru 1979 … RAINER PHILIPP (8) of Vfl Bad Nauheim watches as EV Landshut center ERICH KUEHNHACKL (14) shoots a fourth goal for West Germany against Switzerland at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck during the qualification round for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.
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Switzerland did manage to stay even with West Germany for a little more than half of the first period in a physical match which saw each team assessed seven minor penalties by the referees GORDON KERR of Canada and AKE HANQVIST of Sweden. But then 28-year-old center LORENZ FUNK of SC Berlin, appearing at the third Winter Olympics of his career, found the back of the net almost eleven and a half minutes in to leave the Swiss trailing as the first intermission arrived at the Olympiahalle. And, shortly, a pair of Blitztore from the West Germans to open the second period quickly left Switzerland staring at a sizeable, three-goal defict.

Soon-to-be 36-year-old SC Berlin left wing ERNST KOEPF, who had made his Olympic debut the last time the city of Innsbruck had hosted the Winter Games a dozen years earlier in 1964, converted a feed from his teammate on the 1976 Bundesliga champion, MARTIN HINTERSTOCKER, at the 1:53 mark of the middle frame. It had been the 21-year-old Hinterstocker who had earned an assist on the West Germans’ first goal, as well. Funk then fashioned yet another goal, his second of the Olympic qualification match with the Swiss, unassisted just 24 seconds later to complete a natural hat trick of sorts for the all-Schlittschuhclub Berlin forward line.

Kuehnhackl, a native of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia who began his career behind the Iron Curtain with Banik Sokolov in that country’s elite league before joining EV Landshut to start the 1968/69 campaign, added a fourth goal for West Germany four minutes into the third period. Swiss fans at the Olympiahalle in the Austrian Alps finally had something to cheer about halfway thru the final frame when SC Langnau forward JUERG BERGER, just three days shy of his 22nd birthday, scored to spoil the shutout bid. But BOOS of EG Dusseldorf struck again with a little under three and a half minutes remaining to set the final scoreline at 5-1 in favor of Deutschland.

Seven in a row for West Germany over their neighbors to the south from Switzerland, then, as SC Berlin and national team trainer XAVER UNSINN’s charges skated triumphantly into the A Pool for the final round of the ice hockey competition at the 1976 Winter Olympics.

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Altogether, in all contests including international friendlies, etc., winger ERNST KOEPF (11) skated 154 times and scored 83 goals for the national team of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
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Note — SWITZERLAND and WEST GERMANY engaged in two-game, home and away qualification series for the A Pool of the 1965 IIHF World Championships beginning in mid-December of 1964. The Swiss first won away at Augsburg but the West Germans returned the favor in Bern and so a third, winner-take-all match was required — a wild affair in Geneva which the West Germans won 7-6 on a shorthanded goal by ERNST KOEPF of EV Fuessen very late in the third period. The Bundesrepublik Deutschland lost the next qualification series to Norway, though, and would, therefore, meet the Poles once again in the B Pool later that spring.

These three qualification games from the 1964/65 season are not included in the numbers for the winning streak discussed in the above article.

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76 OG : Czechoslovakia Clobbers Bulgaria


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Four-time Olympic medalist JIRI HOLIK (20) of army club Dukla Jihlava and VLADIMIR MARTINEC (10) of Tesla Pardubice, who was selected as an All-Star at the annual IIHF World Championships four consecutive years from 1974 thru 1977, combined to score five goals for CZECHOSLOVAKIA on the opening day of play at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.
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Three-time world champion CZECHOSLOVAKIA showed itself to be a bona fide contender for the Olympic gold medal by completely bulldozing Eastern Bloc rival and C Pool contestant BULGARIA 14-1 at the Olympiahalle on the first day of the qualification round for the ice hockey competition at the 1976 Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria.

Three goals each from the Tesla Pardubice tandem of VLADIMIR MARTINEC and JIRI NOVAK as well as two goals apiece from the army club Dukla Jihlava duo of JIRI HOLIK and JOSEF AUGUSTA powered the Czechoslovaks, who were determined to shake off the disappointment of having won only a silver medal at the ’68 Grenoble Games in France as well as just a bronze medal from the ’72 Sapporo Games in Japan and, finally, topple the three-time defending champion Soviet Union to claim Olympic ice hockey supremacy.

The overwhelming result against Bulgaria matched Czechoslovakia’s lopsided win over Poland at Sapporo in 1972 by the exact same scoreline and tied as the country’s second-largest margin of victory at the Olympics since the Czechoslovaks, with a squad that included the now 31-year-old veteran Holik, had squashed Japan 17-2 at the Olympiahalle in the qualification round for the ’64 Innsbruck Games a dozen years earlier.

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JOSEF AUGUSTA of Dukla Jihlava
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Czechoslovakia Olympic captain and SONP Kladno defenseman FRANTISEK POSPISIL, who would soon become the focal point of so much attention for failing a post-match drugs test at the ’76 Innsbruck Games, in addition to the CHZ Litvinov pair of defenseman JIRI BUBLA and center IVAN HLINKA, both of whom would eventually compete for the Vancouver Canucks in the National Hockey League, all added a goal and an assist apiece in the rout of Bulgaria.

EDUARD NOVAK of SONP Kladno, the 29-year old winger who would soon enough score what looked to be a most important goal against the Soviet Union late in the third period of the de facto Gold Medal Match of the ’76 Innsbruck Games, was the other Czechoslovak to put his name on the scoresheet on the opening day of Olympic play in the Austrian Alps.

Curiously enough, despite the one-sided nature of the contest, not one single penalty infraction would be called by either of the two Austrian referees, KURT HAIDINGER and WILHELM VALENTIN, overseeing the international match on home ice at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck.

Bulgaria managed its only goal when MARIN BACHVAROV, who still stands second all-time having scored 46 goals for the national team at the World Championships and Winter Games, cut the deficit to 7-1 and spoiled the shutout bid of Czechoslovakia netminder JIRI CRHA, the 25-year-old Olympic rookie from Tesla Pardubice who would eventually defect to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, with just under four mintues remaining in the second period.

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26-year-old defenseman JIRI BUBLA of CHZ Litvinov, who would be chosen as an All-Star at both the 1978 and 1979 IIHF World Championships before ultimately appearing in 256 NHL games over five seasons for the Vancouver Canucks, scored what proved to be his only goal for Czechoslovakia at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games during the decisive 14-1 triumph over Bulgaria in the qualification round.

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’76 OG : Poland Survives Referees, Romania


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Poland goaltender WALERY KOSYL of LKS Lodz
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The first of the so-called qualification games at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck between Eastern Bloc rivals POLAND and ROMANIA was easily the most closely-contested of the six played over the two days prior to the official Opening Ceremony for the 1976 Winter Olympics.

The two nations had last met at an international competition in the B Pool of the 1972 IIHF World Championships, where the tournament-winning Poles had skated off a decisive 7-0 victor. But at the Olympiahalle, the underdog Romanians were clearly intent on fashioning a shock result to formally open the ice hockey competition in the Austrian Alps. Indeed, two goals in the game’s first six and a half minutes provided opportunistic Romania a very bright start towards achieving that end.

Poland finally pulled level at 2-2 seven minutes into the second period but, once again, could not stay even for very long. A power play goal from national team star DORU TUREANU of Dinamo Bucharest, who had assisted on the opening tally in the contest, returned Romania to the lead just five minutes later. This time, though, the Poles retaliated quickly when MIECZYSLAW JASKIERSKI of domestic champion Podhale Nowy Targ knotted the match 3-3 only thirty-two seconds thereafter.

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Romania national team all-time goal-scoring king DORU TUREANU (6) of Dinamo Bucharest, who netted six goals in ten games at the A Pool of the 1977 IIHF World Championships and five goals in as many matches at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
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Referees RUDOLF BATA of Czechoslovakia and HEINRICH EHRENSPERGER of Switzerland ultimately assessed five of the game’s six penalties to Poland and the Romanians were effectively able to capitalize on this in the middle frame. And so, with the Romanians again enjoying the manpower advantage, ELOD ANTAL of SC Miercurea Ciuc shot his second goal of the match with a shade under two minutes to go until the final intermission. But, once again, the Poles significantly responded in relative short order and stopped whatever momentum upset-minded Romania may have been gathering with a second goal of the game from LESZEK KOKOSZKA of army club Legia Warsaw at the 19:31 mark.

The final period was approaching the halfway point when 31-year-old veteran defenseman ROBERT GORALCZYK of Baildon Katowice, the oldest player on the ’76 Poland Olympic ice hockey team, scored a pivotal goal to give Polska its very first lead of the entire game. It had been Goralczyk, of course, who had drawn the assist on the second strike from Kokoszka, as well. 20-year-old HENRYK PYTEL of Zaglebie Sosnowiec then shot his very first Olympic goal for Poland and doubled the margin with time beginning to run out on the brave but fading Romanians.

A late strike from 22-year-old Olympic novice WIESLAW JOBCZYK of Baildon Katowice provided favored Poland with its third unanswered in the final twenty minutes at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck and capped off the critical 7-4 win over stubborn Romania.

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Innsbruck ’76 : The Qualification Match-Ups


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The streets of Innsbruck are virtually empty, then, as almost everyone in the picturesque Alpine town is over at the Olympiahalle watching what will be mostly one-sided matches in the Qualification Round for the ice hockey tournament at the 1976 Winter Games in Austria.
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1976 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES … Innsbruck, Austria
Qualification Round … Ice hockey tournament
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February 2
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A5 – Poland ………………. vs … B5 – Romania
A2 – Czechoslovakia ……. vs … C2 – Bulgaria
B2 – West Germany …….. vs … B3 – Switzerland

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A4 – Finland ……………… vs … B6 – Japan
A6 – United States ………. vs … B4 – Yugoslavia
A1 – Soviet Union ……….. vs … C3 – Austria

The seedings for the ’76 Innsbruck Games ice hockey tournament based on the results from the 1975 IIHF World Championships hosted by West Germany. The withdrawl of Sweden (A3) required a replacement to round out the top six and the continued absence of pucksters from East Germany (B1) at the Olympics enabled their brothers to the west, in the end, to fill that void. Norway (C1) won the C Pool of the 1975 World Championships contested in Bulgaria but also declined to enter an ice hockey squad at the 1976 Winter Games.

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A contemporary postage stamp from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics attracts attention to the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Austria; ironically enough, the Soviet skater depicted in the drawing is being trailed by a player in the national team uniform of Sweden, who ultimately chose not to participate at Innsbruck as a result of too many of their top players, such as Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson of the World Hockey Association’s Winnipeg Jets, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play professionally in North America.

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Innsbruck ’76 : Improving Poles Prepare


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JERZY POTZ (20), the long-time LKS Lodz defender who capped his career in 1990 after seven seasons for Eintracht Frankfurt and another with Vfl Bad Nauheim in West Germany, represented POLAND four times at the Winter Olympic Games in addition to 11 appearances at the annual IIHF World Championships and still ranks second all-time with 204 games played for the Polska national team.
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Ever since the start of the 1970s, POLAND had shown remarkable improvement at ice hockey and, as a result, had been rewarded with the opportunity to host the upcoming International Ice Hockey World Championships tournament later in the spring. The Poles, after spending nearly all of the previous decade skating in the B Pool, had not only reached the top tier at the 1972 Sapporo Games by blanking West Germany in the qualification round but had sustained a place in the A Pool at the annual global tourney for the past three years running now. The first order of business, however, was the 1976 Winter Olympic Games at Innsbruck, where Poland would enter ranked fourth amongst the twelve participating nations.

The Polish attack was spearheaded by the experienced Podhale Nowy Targ line of STEFAN CHOWANIEC, MIECZYSLAW JASKIERSKI and WALENTY ZIETARA. Both the 22-year-old Chowaniec as well as the 27-year-old Zietara were veterans of the ’72 Winter Games while no Polish player could top the eight goals scored by the 25-year-old Jaskierski at the last three IIHF World Championships. Jaskierski (19 goals) and Zietara (14 goals) would ultimately finish as the top two lamp-lighters for Poland in the eight major international tournaments (read, A Pool) at which it participated throughout the 1970s.

The Poles, obviously looking ahead to the future, also included a trio of talented youngsters on their final 18-man roster at Innsbruck. 20-year-old ANDRZEJ ZABAWA of Baildon Katowice had already made his debut for Polska at the 1975 World Championships held in West Germany but the 22-year-old WIESLAW JOBCZYK of Baildon Katowice and 20-year-old HENRYK PYTEL of Zaglebie Sosnowiec were newcomers to the major international tournament scene. All three would go on to represent Poland at the Winter Games for the next three tournaments (as well as end their respective careers skating for clubs in both the West German first and second divisions).

More importantly, Zabawa (99 goals), Jobczyk (88 goals) and Pytel (77 goals) would all later surpass the Poland national team scoring record set previously by Zietara.

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WALENTY ZIETARA (left) of Podhale Nowy Targ, who had a brief spell with ATSE Graz in Austria before closing out his career with Swiss second division EHC Duebendorf in 1981, finished as Poland’s the all-time leader with 72 goals in 179 games for the national team while winning the Golden Stick as the country’s top domestic player in 1972, 1977 and 1979; MIECZYSLAW JASKIERSKI (right), who put in a pair of seasons for army club Legia Warsaw before returning to Podhale Nowy Targ to start the 74/75 campaign, totaled 59 goals in 137 games for the national team of Poland before spending his last three years skating with EK Zell am See in Austria.
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The bulk of Poland’s Olympic experience was to be found on defense with four of the seven Sapporo returnees situated either on the blueline or in between the pipes. This included the two goaltenders, 31-year-old WALERY KOSYL of LKS Lodz and 29-year-old ANDRZEJ TKACZ of GKS Katowice, both of whom had already seen plenty of rubber at the international level. Tkacz, who was just a few months away from playing a major part in the greatest victory in the history of Polish ice hockey, had won the Golden Stick (Zloty Kij) as the nation’s premier player in 1975 and was destined to repeat this honor one year later.

32-year-old rearguard ROBERT GORALCZYK of Baildon Katowice had first appeared for Poland a decade earlier at the A Pool of the 1966 IIHF World Championships in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, and also scored two goals at the ’72 Sapporo Games. Defender JERZY POTZ of LKS Lodz was only just turning 23 at the start of the Innsbruck Games in 1976 but already had four World Championships and one Olympic tournment under his youthful belt. Although Winter Games novice ANDRZEJ SLOWAKIEWICZ had not appeared in Japan, the 25-year-old Podhale Nowy Targ blueline had already appeared at the World Championships in five of the last six seasons.

Poland had been soundly thrashed 20-0 by the Soviet Union at the 1973 IIHF World Championships in Moscow and the beatings had only been less severe (13-2 and 15-1) at the annual event of 1975 in West Germany. Still, the Poles had managed to manage a draw against the Finns at the World Champioships in both 1973 and 1974 and defeated the United States twice in West Germany, as well. And, Poland had taken down the Bundesrepublik Deutschland in three of the last four meetings between the two at the World Championships and Olympics dating back to 1969.

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Poland netminder ANDRZEJ TKACZ poses for a photograph in his Olympic team jacket; after meeting the necessary age requirements, the long-time GKS Katowice goaltender who appeared 145 times for the national team but became famous with just a single performance against the mighty U.S.S.R. at the 1976 IIHF World Championships in Katowice was finally allowed by authorities to travel west in the late 1970s and would end his career with clubs in West Germany (EHC Stuttgart), Switzerland (SC Zuerich) and Austria (VEU Feldkirch, EHC Kitzbuehel).

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