Archive for 1976 OG Innsbruck

Innsbruck ’76 : West Germans Just Want To Compete


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“Olympics Are Not Everything” reads the headline in blue as trainer XAVER UNSINN poses with the national team of West Germany just prior to the 1976 Winter Games at Innsbruck; although there are 23 players in the photograph above, contemporary Olympic rules only allowed for 18-man rosters for the ice hockey competiton in the Austrian Alps.
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The BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND crossed the Alpine border into neighboring Austria and arrived at Innsbruck, intially, squarely focused on winning their qualification match and earning a place in the top tier for the ice hockey competition at the 1976 Winter Games. Indeed, the West Germans had not even skated in the A Pool at the 1972 Sapporo Games and had also failed to win the B Pool on home ice at the 1975 IIHF World Championships while losing to their ultimate arch-rival, the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, by the decisive margin of 5-0 in Munich. A qualification game at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck with yet another neighbor to the south, Switzerland, looked favorable, though, and trainer XAVER UNSINN understood that anything, thereafter, was possible with neither Canada nor Sweden taking part at the Olympics this time.

Unforeseen, perhaps, was the influence that the elegant giant, 6’6″ center ERICH KUEHNHACKL, would impose on the proceedings for West Germany at Innsbruck. The titanic 25-year-old, who had led the domestic circuit by scoring 50 goals for EV Landshut during the 1973/74 season, would be deployed between Bundesliga teammate ALOIS SCHLODER, the 28-year-old team captain appearing at the Olympics for a third time in his career, and emerging 25-year-old RAINER PHILIPP of Vfl Bad Nauheim.

Significantly for the historically low-scoring West Germans, a second line also emerged to provide additional scoring punch in Austria. This unit comprised of a pair of players each competing at their third Winter Games, LORENZ FUNK and ERNST KOEPF, and ’72 Olympic holdover MARTIN HINTERSTOCKER — all skated for the national team trainer Unsinn with 1976 Bundesliga champion SC Berlin. The trio ended up leading West Germany by collectively scoring an average of two goals per game in the team’s six contests at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck.

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RAINER PHILIPP, Vfl Bad Neuheim
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The 35-year-old Koepf had, of course, made his Olympic debut a dozen years earlier in the very same ice hockey arena when the city of Innsbruck hosted the Winter Games for the first time in 1964. Koepf had not appeared at an international tournament for West Germany since skating in the B Pool of the 1970 IIHF World Champinships but was recalled for the ’76 Innsbruck Olympics by his SC Berlin trainer. Unsinn, to review, had also been among the trio of coaches in charge of the last “Equipe unifee d’Allemagne” (Unified Team of Germany) squad at Innsbruck in 1964.

The West German defense was fortified by yet another set of three-time Olympic performers both hailing from EV Fuessen, the trainer Unsinn’s old club from his playing days. 31-year-old RUDOLF THANNER had six Bundesliga titles under his belt while 27-year-old JOSEF VOELK also counted four domestic championships, himself. Talented 20-year-old defender UDO KIESSLING of SB Rosenheim, the native East Geman whose father Gerd had already served as national team trainer on both sides of the notorious Berlin Wall, was appearing at the Winter Olympics for the first of what would be no less than five times.

ERICH WEISHAUPT, the 23-year-old former ESV Kaufbeuren netminder who was in his first year under Unsinn at SC Berlin, had cut his international teeth in between the pipes for West Germany at the 1975 IIHF World Championships on home soil. The trainer Unsinn also recalled the experienced ANTON KEHLE of EV Fuessen, a 28-year-old veteran of the ’72 Sapporo Games who had not appeared at an international event since the 1973 IIHF World Championships held in Moscow. As the Americans would find out soon enough at Innsbruck, the selection of Kehle to the ’76 Olympic squad would prove to be quite beneficial for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

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Three-time Olympic defenseman RUDOLF “Rudi” THANNER of EV Fuessen represented the Federal Republic of Germany eleven times at international tournaments over the course of his career and would cap his final appearance at the Winter Games with a souvenir to string around his neck.
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FEDERAL REPUBLIC of GERMANY
1976 Olympic Ice Hockey Squad
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35 – FW – Ernst KOEPF ……………….. SC Berlin
30 – FW – Ferenc VOZAR …………….. SC Berlin
30 – FW – Wolfgang BOOS …………… EG Dusseldorf
28 – FW – Alois SCHLODER ………….. EV Landshut
28 – FW – Lorenz FUNK ……………….. SC Berlin
27 – FW – Walter KOEBERLE ………… EG Dusseldorf
25 – FW – Erich KUEHNHACKL ……….. EV Landshut
25 – FW – Rainer PHILIPP …………….. Vfl Bad Nauheim
21 – FW – Martin HINTERSTOCKER …. SC Berlin
21 – FW – Franz REINDL ………………. SC Riessersee

31 – DF – Rudolf THANNER …………… EV Fuessen
27 – DF – Josef VOELK ………………… EV Fuessen
24 – DF – Klaus AUHUBER …………….. EV Landshut
24 – DF – Stefan METZ ………………… SC Berlin
21 – DF – Ignaz BERDANER …………… SC Riessersee
20 – DF – Udo KIESSLING ……………… SB Rosenheim

28 – GK – Anton KEHLE ………………… EV Fuessen
23 – GK – Erich WEISHAUPT …………… SC Berlin

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The 1976 Winter Olympic Games at Innsbruck in Austria would prove to be the signature moment in the accomplished career of West Germany national team trainer XAVER UNSINN.

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Innsbruck ’76 : Finns Fancy First-Ever Medal


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ESA PELTONEN (12) utimately appeared at the Winter Olympic Games on four occasions and ended his career as the second-best ever for FINLAND at major international events having totaled 53 points (37 go, 26 as), just two goals shy of matching all-time leader Lasse Oksanen’s exact scoring record.
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No team at the ice hockey tournament of the 1976 Winter Games was, perhaps, more excited by the decision of both Canada and Sweden to skip the Olympics as a result of inability to ice professional players than FINLAND. Indeed, the Finns had finished in fourth place for the past seven consecutive years at the annual IIHF World Championships now. Common sense dictated that, in the absence of the Canadians and Swedes, the skaters of SUOMI had the inside track on a first-ever finish in the top three at a major international event in the nation’s history.

SEPPO LIITSOLA, who had guided Finland to a legendary upset of the Soviet Union at Moscow’s Christmas-time Izvestia Cup in December of 1971 during his first tour of duty with the national team, made wholesale changes to his squad which had finished level with arch-rival Sweden on points at the 1975 IIHF World Championships in West Germany but surrendered the set of bronze medals by virtue of inferior goal differential.

Some of the roster moves were mandated when three top players — forwards LAURI MONONEN and JUHA TAMMINEN as well as defenseman PEKKA RAUTAKALLIO — crossed the Atlantic Ocean to sign professional contracts to play the 75/76 season in the World Hockey Association. Others, such as the omission of 33-year-old national team veteran LASSE OKSANEN, Finland’s leading scorer at the last World Championships who was now turning out for Italian side HC Gardena, in addition to that of TPS Turku center SEPPO REPO, the 28-year-old whose five goals at the ’75 WC tied for second most on the team, and IFK Helsinki winger HARRI LINNONMAA, the 29-year-old whose six points (4 go, 2 as) in West Germany tied for third-best on the squad, came as a result of the proverbial “coach’s decision”. No less than one-third of Finland’s 18-man roster at the 1976 Winter Olympics were rookies who had never before participated in a major international tourney.

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MATTI HAGMAN (20) was one of the very first Finnish players to ever be tabbed by a National Hockey League team when the Boston Bruins chose the IFK Helsinki center in the 6th round (# 104 overall) of the 1975 NHL Draft. The rival New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association rated Hagman even higher and picked the youngster in the 3rd round (# 43 overall) of the WHA proceedings that same year. Hagman, who also later skated with Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, would become the very first player from Finland to ever compete in the Stanley Cup Finals when the Boston Bruins battled the Montreal Canadiens in 1977.
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One player at the ’76 Innsbruck Games to whom Liitsola was looking for both experience and skill was 28-year-old IFK Helsinki forward ESA PELTONEN, the would-be four-time Olympian who had missed the last World Championships in West Germany on account of injury. Another was Peltonen’s teammate with the Finnish capital city club, MATTI MURTO, the 26-year-old winger who had spent the 74/75 campaign with VEU Feldkirch in the Austrian Bundesliga. The rising star was IFK Helsinki center MATTI HAGMAN, the 20-year-old NHL draft choice who had debuted as a teenager at the ’75 WC and had collected five points (2 go, 3 as) in nine contests played.

Tappara Tampere rearguard PEKKA MARJAMAKI had put on an outstanding performance at the annual global tournament in West Germany by scoring six goals to lead Finland and was selected both an All-Star by the accredited media as well as Best Defenseman by the IIHF Directorate. 34-year-old blueliner SEPPO LINDSTROM, the former SC Berlin legionnaire now with 1976 Finnish domestic champion TPS Turku, was competing at his third Winter Olympics. The number one netminder for the Finns at Innsbruck figured to be ANTTI LEPPANEN of Tappara Tampere, the 28-year-old who had started seven of Suomi’s ten games at the 1975 World Championships.

The Finns, for their part, saw the Bundesrepublik Deutschland as their biggest rival to attaining the goal of an Olympic bronze medal at the minimum. The United States, with its so-called “university” team, was viewed as less of a threat in Liitsola’s country. Of course, there was always the chance that Finland might rise up and ambush the Czechoslovaks, as had already happened at the IIHF World Championships in both 1970 and 1974.

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PEKKA MARJAMAKI (7), who spent most his time with Tappara Tampere but did skate two seasons with HV 71 Jonkoeping in the Swedish top flight, still holds a share of the all-time mark for Finland defenseman having shot 17 goals at major international tournaments over the course of his accomplished career.

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Americans Arrive Quietly At Innsbruck


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Despite the fact that the UNITED STATES national team had lost all ten of its contests while being decidedly outscored 84-22 at the 1975 IIHF World Championships hosted jointly by Dusseldorf and Munich in West Germany, the American Olympic team arrived in Innsbruck via train from the Austrian capital city of Vienna quite hopeful, indeed, of earning a medal at the 1976 Winter Games.

Neither Canada nor Sweden, both upset over the continued inability to ice their world class (read, professional) players at the Olympics, were present in the Tyrolean Alps. And, although the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were heavy favorites to occupy the top two spots, a target of third place – and the accompanying set of bronze medals – looked to be entirely possible for the U.S.A. squad steered by “Badger” BOB JOHNSON, the University of Wisconsin boss who had bagged the NCAA title in 1973 and coached the winless national team at the last World Championships in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The biggest obstacle for the defending silver medalists of the 1972 Sapporo Games figured to be skillful Finland, with the physical West Germans and the improving Poles also standing in the way of the Americans at Innsbruck.

It was an open secret that Johnson’s squad at Innsbruck was not necessarilly the strongest United States team possible. Aside from the fact National Hockey League expansion and the rise of the rival World Hockey Association circuit in the early 1970s had meant that more American players than ever were signing professional contracts and becoming ineligible, several top collegiate skaters had also decided by skip the ’76 Innsbruck tournament for whatever reasons. And, to make things worse, the U.S. Olympic team lost its leading scorer with the Winter Games less than two months away.

Diminutive yet dynamic defenseman RON WILSON, an 8th round (# 132 overall) selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1975 National Hockey League Draft, was leading the ’76 U.S. Olympic team having totaled 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists) in just 27 exhibition games. But the 1975 and Eastern College Athletic Conference Player of the Year and NCAA All-American (East) abruptly left in December and returned to Providence College, where the native of Windsor, Ontario, once again earned All-American (East) honors at the end of the 75/76 season. Ironically enough, Wilson would later go on to become the head coach of the United States contigent for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games hosted by Vancouver in western Canada.

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STEVE JENSEN in 1976 Canada Cup uniform
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The United States were counting heavily on the goal-scoring talents of STEVE JENSEN, who had captured the 1975 NCAA championship with Michigan Tech. The 20-year-old winger was, in the eyes of the National Hockey League, the brightest pro prospect on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team having been taken by the Minnesota North Stars with the 58th overall pick (4th round) of the 1975 NHL Draft after scoring two goals at the IIHF World Championships earlier that spring. Jensen was one of eight American players at the Innsbruck Games who had also gone to West Germany with Johnson a year earlier.

WILLIAM “Buzz” SCHNEIDER, an NCAA titlist with the University of Minnesota in 1974 and a 6th round (# 98 overall) draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penquins, had found the back of the net no less than eight times to easily pace the United States at the ’75 IIHF WC. The “Babbitt Rabbit” also stood out in West Germany by scoring three goals in a single game against U.S.S.R. goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, the CSKA ‘puck tamer’ thought by some to be the world’s very best between the pipes. Unfortunately for Johnson’s charges, however, Schneider’s regular centerman at “the U” and with the United States national team, 1975 NCAA All-American (West) MIKE POLICH, was already playing professionally with the Montreal Canadiens’ top affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, in the American Hockey League.

The leading scorer over the course of the exhibition schedule for the 1976 U.S. Olympic team had been BOB DOBEK, the center from Bowling Green State College whom no club in either the established NHL or the upstart WHA had even bothered to draft. Another expected to provide some scoring punch, the tiny (5’7″ 155 lbs) STEVE SERTICH, had gone off to play in the West German Bundesliga after concluding his career at Colorado College. Sertich was one of the more internationally-experienced players for the Americans having appeared at the 1974 and 1975 IIHF World Championships previously.

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STEVE ALLEY (11) and BOB LUNDEEN (8), a pair of Minnesota natives as well as National Hockey League draft picks, were both members of the University of Wisconsin team that captured the NCAA title in 1973 and also both appeared for trainer “Badger Bob” Johnson’s United States squad at the 1975 IIHF World Championships in West Germany.
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1976 UNITED STATES Olympic ice hockey team
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Bob DOBEK ………. Bowling Green
Steve JENSEN ……. Michigan Tech …… 1975 – 4th rd, Minnesota North Stars
Bob MILLER ………. New Hampshire ….. (1976 – 4th rd, Boston Bruins)
Dan BOLDUC …….. Harvard
Steve SERTICH …… EV Fuessen (WGer)
Buzz SCHNEIDER … Minnesota ……….. 1974 – 6th rd, Pittsburgh Penquins
Steve ALLEY ……… Wisconsin ……….. 1973 – 9th rd, Chicago Black Hawks
Ted THORNDIKE …. Harvard
Bob LUNDEEN ……. Wisconsin ……….. 1972 – 8th rd, Minnesota North Stars
Robby HARRIS ……. Minnesota
Doug ROSS ……….. Bowling Green

Dick LAMBY ……….. Salem State ……. 1975 – 8th rd, St. Louis Blues
John TAFT ………… Wisconsin ………. 1975 – 5th rd, Detroit Red Wings
Gary ROSS ………… Bemidji State
Paul JENSEN ………. Michigan Tech … 1975 – 8th rd, Chicago Black Hawks
Jeff HYMANSON …… Albuquerque ….. 1974 – 15th rd, Minnesota North Stars

Jim WARDEN ………. Michigan Tech … 1974 – 5th rd, California Golden Seals
Blaine COMSTOCK .. Warroad Lakers (Minn)

The defense was anchored by 1976 U.S. Olympic team captain JOHN TAFT, the only skater for the United States to have appeared at the last three IIHF annual tournaments. The University of Wisconsin product and 1973 NCAA champion was the Americans’ third-highest rated player according to the Detroit Red Wings, who had chosen the rearguard in the 5th round (# 81 overall) of the 1975 NHL Draft. The biggest defenseman was the 200-pounder DICK LAMBY, the two-time NCAA Division II All-American from Salem State College in Massachusetts who had alredy been drafted by the St. Louis Blues and would transfer to and become 1978 NCAA champion with Boston University.

Historically speaking, the United States always required a heroic effort from their goaltender in order to attain Olympic hardware. Both WILLARD IKOLA (University of Michigan) and JACK MCCARTAN (University of Minnesota) had earned Best Goaltender honors from the IIHF Directorate when the Americans won the silver medal in 1956 and the coveted gold in 1960, respectively, while MIKE “Lefty” CURRAN (Green Bay Bobcats) had also been critical to the second place finish at the Sapporo Games in 1972. And so, many hopes rested on the shoulders of one JIM WARDEN.

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Michigan Tech goaltender JIM WARDEN (1), chosen by the California Golden Seals in the 5th round (# 75 overall) of the 1974 National Hockey League Draft, makes a skate save as University of Minnesota forward PAT PHIPPEN (11), the 10th round pick (# 118 overall) of the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the 1973 World Hockey Association Draft who later represented the United States at the 1976 IIHF World Championships in Poland, looks to whack home the rebound during a Western Collegiate Hockey Association contest in December of 1974.

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Willkommen Zu Der Olympiahalle


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The opposing national teams of POLAND (white sweaters, red shorts) and FINLAND line-up on their respective bluelines just prior to the start their meeting on the exciting and eventful final day of the ice hockey competiton at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games hosted by Innsbruck, Austria.
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The historical OLYMPIAHALLE in the Pradl district of the Austrian city of Innsbruck is something of a hallowed shrine as far as international ice hockey goes.

The recognizable arena with an official capacity of 7,800 will always standout as the very first, fully-enclosed indoor rink to ever host the ice hockey tournament at the world-renowned Winter Olympics. Indeed, the Innsbruck Games of 1964 had propelled the sport of ice hockey into modern era, in so far as the Olympics were concerned. And, a local revolt on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean would see to it that the Olympiahalle remains the one and only venue to have ever staged Olympic ice hockey on two different occasions.

The International Olympic Committee had initially chosen Denver in the United States as the site for the XII Games of the Winter Olympiad. But the taxpayers in the city in the shadows of the famed Rocky Mountains absolutely freaked out once they finally figured what staging the Olympics was going to cost them. And so, the I.O.C. hastily relocated the 1976 Winter Games to Innsbruck, where all the requisite infrastructure had already been built a decade prior.

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A contemporary shot of the triple-tiered standing-room section inside the OLYMPIAHALLE, which was upgraded after the new millenium as the city of Innsbruck prepared to play host to the IIHF World Championships in 2005, at the one end of the rink in the Tyrolean capital.
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A modern-day view of the single-level standing-room area at the other end of the OLYMPIAHALLE, which used to serve as home ice for the now-defunct EV Innsbruck team; the historic Olympic arena has been without a tenant in Austrian professional hockey ever since the smaller Tirol Wasserkraft Arena was built right next door in 2005.
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A colorful postcard from the 1970s commemorates the the two-time Olympic city of Innsbruck and captures the scenic Tyrolean Alps, which dominate the landscape of western Austria, in addition to the iconic OLYMPIAHALLE and its adjacent outdoor speed skating track.
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The view from behind the OLYMPIAHALLE and the adjacent outdoor speed skating track stares straight into the natural beauty and wonder that are the Alps in the western Austrian state of Tyrol; to the right of the square-shaped Olympic ice hockey building is the smaller Tirol Wasserkraft Arena, the home rink for die Haie (the Sharks) of HC TWK Innsbruck, with its oval-shaped roof.
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A shot from the side of the OLYMPIAHALLE (left) shows the iconic Olympic rings on the front of the building in addition to the neighboring Tivoli-Neu Stadion, the stadium that was built in 2002 with the capacity for 17,400 spectators and serves as the home ground of FC Wacker Innsbruck, a football (soccer) team in the Austrian Bundesliga.
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A frontal view of the majestic OLYMPIAHALLE with its Olympic rings and the much-smaller Tirol Wasserkraft Arena (official capacity for 3,130 fans); HC TWK Innsbruck, who were originally founded in 1994, currently compete in the second divison of Austrian domestic hockey.
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This contemporary photograph features the colorful European automobiles parked alongside the row of national flags on display just outside the OLYMPIAHALLE (which would be on one’s left in this photo here) and can do nothing but adequately prepare one for the adventure and drama that is the “OCCUPY 1976 INNSBRUCK OLYMPICS” movement.
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Are YOU ready to flashback for some Olympic ice hockey from the 1976 Winter Games hosted by Innsbruck in the Tyrolean Alps of western Austria?

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76 OG : Big Red Machine Continues To Roll


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The four-times consecutive Olympic champion squad from the UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS pose for a proper team photograph just after being awarded the coveted set of gold medals by I.O.C. big-wigs during the official ceremony for the 1976 Winter Games ice hockey competition at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck, Austria.
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For the very first time ever at the Winter Olympics, the ice hockey team of the U.S.S.R. at the ’76 Innsbruck Games was not steered by ANATOLI TARASOV, the legendary “Father of Soviet Hockey” who had been replaced as trainer of the national team after the 1972 Winter Olympics in the wake of a dispute with the powers that be in the Soviet Sports Committee over cash bonuses.

It was, of course, BORIS KULAGIN of the Moscow-based Soviet Wings (Krylya Sovetov) club who had been in charge of the U.S.S.R. national side ever since his appointment ahead of the 1974 IIHF World Championships. But the listing for the above photograph is inaccurate, then, as the coach assisting Kulagin was actually KONSTANTIN LOKTEV of CSKA Moscow, who had taken over the powerhouse army club from Tarasov to start the 1974/75 hockey season. Both Kulagin and Loktev had taken their Soviet domestic clubs on the historic tour of North America to face professional National Hockey League teams just a couple of months prior to the 1976 Winter Olympics in Austria.

All of the gold medal-winning Soviet players at the ’76 Innsbruck Games had also participated in that landmark meeting with the NHL clubs.

’76 SOVIET UNION Olympic squad
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Vladimir PETROV – 28 – ctr …….. CSKA Moscow …….. 6 ga 6 go 3 as 9 pts
Boris MIKHAILOV – 31 – rw ……… CSKA Moscow …….. 5 ga 3 go 1 as 4 pts
Valery KHARLAMOV – 28 – lw ….. CSKA Moscow …….. 6 ga 3 go 6 as 9 pts

Vladimir SHADRIN – 27 – ctr …….. Spartak Moscow ….. 6 ga 10 go 4 as 14 pts
Viktor SHALIMOV – 24 – rw ……… Spartak Moscow ….. 6 ga 7 go 5 as 12 pts
Alexander YAKUSHEV – 29 – lw … Spartak Moscow ….. 6 ga 4 go 4 as 8 pts

Viktor ZHLUKTOV – 21 – ctr …….. CSKA Moscow …….. 6 ga 2 go 6 as 8 pts
Alexander MALTSEV – 26 – rw ….. Dynamo Moscow …. 6 ga 7 go 7 as 14 pts
Sergei KAPUSTIN – 22 – lw ……… Soviet Wings ………. 6 ga 6 go 1 as 7 pts

Boris ALEXANDROV – 20 – lw …… CSKA Moscow ……. 5 ga 2 go 3 as 5 pts

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Gold medalist BORIS ALEXANDROV (11) of CSKA Moscow was one of a only a very select few of all the Olympic ice hockey players from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who was not Russian. After the fall of the old U.S.S.R., the 20-year-old winger who had begun his senior career in the Soviet system with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk was later appointed the national team trainer of his native Kazakhstan. Alexandrov was the only skater for the Soviet Union not to appear in the de facto Gold Medal Match with Czechoslovakia on the final day of ice hockey competition at the 1976 Winter Games at Innsbruck.
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Gennady TSYGANKOV – 28 – def …. CSKA Moscow ……. 6 ga 1 go 2 as 3 pts
Vladimir LUTCHENKO – 27 – def …… CSKA Moscow ……. 6 ga 0 go 2 as 2 pts
Alexander GUSEV – 29 – def ……….. CSKA Moscow ……. 6 ga 1 go 2 as 3 pts
Valery VASILIEV – 26 – def ………….. Dynamo Moscow … 6 ga 1 go 2 as 3 pts
Yuri LIAPKIN – 31 – def ………………. Spartak Moscow …. 6 ga 1 go 3 as 4 pts
Sergei BABINOV – 20 – def ………….. Soviet Wings …….. 6 ga 2 go 2 as 4 pts

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26-year-old defenseman VALERY VASILIEV (6) of Dynamo Moscow, who appeared at the Olympics for the Soviet Union three times in his distinguished career and before captaining the 1981 Canada Cup champion team, did much to solidy the U.S.S.R. blueline during the 1976 Winter Games hosted by Innsbruck, Austria.
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Vladislav TRETIAK – 23 – gk ………… CSKA Moscow … 4 ga 240 min 2.50 avg
Alexander SIDELNIKOV – 25 – gk …… Soviet Wings ….. 2 ga 120 min 2.00 avg

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Soviet Union goaltender VLADISLAV TRETIAK (20) of CSKA Moscow, one of nine returning players from the title-winning team at the 1972 Sapporo Games, scored the second of what would be a hat trick of Olympic gold medals over the course of his accomplished career with strong work between the pipes for the U.S.S.R. at the 1976 Winter Games hosted by Innsbruck, Austria.

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Occupy 1976 Innsbruck Olympics


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In order to help celebrate the legendary career of Germany’s Mister Eishockey, XAVER UNSINN, the blog is busy organzing a movement to effectively and thoroughly Occupy the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

Some groundwork has been previously posted here at this blog already, including detailed works on the dramatic GOLD MEDAL MATCH from the historic Olympiaeishalle featuring the mighty Eastern bloc rivals of CZECHOSLOVAKIA and the SOVIET UNION.

The memorable ice hockey tournament in the Austrian Alps also included a boycott from both Canada and Sweden in response to the continued ban against “professional” players, a failed drugs test by the team captain of Czechoslovakia as well as a three-team photo finish between Finland, the United States and West Germany for the 1976 Olympic bronze medal.

As always, no passports are required and all are invited en masse to share in the magical moments of international ice hockey history which are joyfully replayed continuously here.

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WEST GERMANY national team captain ALOIS SCHLODER of EV Landshut ascends to the top of the podium at the Olympiahalle to accept the bronze medal for ice hockey from I.O.C. officials during the 1976 Wiinter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria; the silver medalists from CZECHOSLOVAKIA (white sweaters, left) and the gold medal squad from the SOVIET UNION (red sweaters, center), led by captain BORIS MIKHAILOV (K, # 13) of CSKA Moscow, applaud having already received their respective rewards.
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While the U.S.S.R. won the gold medal at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck for a record-tying fourth consecutive time, the set of bronze medals earned by the Bundesrepublik Deutschland in the Austrian Alps marked the first time in 44 years and only the second occasion, ever, that a German ice hockey squad had finished inside the top three at the prestigous Olympic tournament.

The proceedings in the Austrian Alps also played host to the so-called Elimination Game for the last time ever at an Olympic event. These once and done qualification matches, initially implemented by the I.O.C. at the Innsbruck Games of 1964, were meant to give countries that traditionally competed in the lower B Pool at the IIHF World Championships the opportunity to pull off a big upset and reach the final round at the Winter Games. What often (and predictably) resulted were lopsided blowouts.

Such as the 14-1 beating Czechoslovakia issued to Bulgaria at the Olympiahalle on February 2, 1976, or the 16-3 thrashing that the Soviet Union inflicted upon host nation Austria the very next day in Innsbruck … but that would be another Olympic story.

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West Germany’s flower-bearing Olympic bronze medal trainer XAVER UNSINN (left) and five of his 1976 Bundesliga champion squad SC Berlin — forwards ERNST KOEPF, FERENC VOZAR, LORENZ FUNK, MARTIN HINTERSTOCKER and goaltender ERICH WEISHAUPT — return triumphantly from the 1976 Winter Olympic Games hosted by Innsbruck in neighboring Austria.

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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

cssr-novyussr-shadrin

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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Head West Old Men

bubla_jiricze-pouzar_jaroslav

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Several skaters from both squads at the de facto Gold Medal Match of the 1976 Innsbruck Games eventually headed west to play some more hockey at the tail end of their careers.

The authorities in Czechoslovakia, who had been allowing aging players to compete in Western Europe since the late 1960s, adopted a new transfer policy involving the professional National Hockey League in the summer of 1981.

Thus, former Czechoslovak national team players IVAN HLINKA and JIRI BUBLA joined the Vancouver Canucks hockey club who skated their way to the 1982 Stanley Cup finals before bowing to the-then two-time defending NHL champion, the New York Islanders. 

The following season, the 1982-83 schedule, MIROSLAV DVORAK put on the shirt of the Philadelphia Flyers, Jarosloav POUZAR checked in present for the Edmonton Oilers and MILAN NOVY went to the Washington Capitals.

Later, MILAN CHALUPA, after a total of three Winter Olympic Games for Czechoslovakia had a short cup of coffee for the Detroit Red Wings in 1984-85.

All were preceded by the backup goalkeeper for Czechoslovakia at Innsbruck, however. Tesla Pardubice netminder JIRI CRHA had defected the Iron Curtain following the 1978-79 and turned up in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in February of 1980. Then 29, Crha became the first Czechoslovak to ever bolt the domestic league and jump directly to an NHL club.

Crha and Chalupa were later long-time teammates for EHC Freiburg in West Germany.

The Czechoslovak Ice Hockey Federation had, after the 1969-70 season, discontinued the practice of allowing NHL participation to Czechoslovak players. JAROSLAV JIRIK had been the lone player sent to the St. Louis Blues for a single year, most of which was spent in the minors with the Kansas City Blues of the Central Hockey League.

Clearly, the Crha Case was of at least some influence to the the Czechoslovak authorities.

As for the rest of the silver medalists at Innsbruck, almost all were permitted to play at least a little professional hockey in Western Europe later on down the line.

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