Grenoble ’68 : Firsov Was Fearsome

ANATOLI FIRSOV (falling, center) fires a shot into the pads of Finland goaltender URPO YLONEN at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France. As the scoreboard in the background indicates, a little over seven minutes have been played (Olympic hockey clocks count time up, not down as in the NHL) in the first period with the Soviets already leading 3-0. On the opening day of the final round-robin, the Soviet Union defeated Finland 8-0 with Firsov scoring once.

ANATOLI FIRSOV (falling, center) fires a shot into the pads of Finland goaltender URPO YLONEN at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France. As the scoreboard in the background indicates, a little over seven minutes have been played (Olympic hockey clocks count time up, not down as in the NHL) in the first period with the Soviets already leading 3-0. On the opening day of the final round-robin, the Soviet Union defeated Finland 8-0 with Firsov scoring once.

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VLADIMIR ZABRODSKY of Czechoslovakia racked up an astonishing 27 goals in just seven games at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The Czechoslovak captain’s scoring remarkable scoring feat was, however, accomplished in an era prior to that of modern international ice hockey. The contemporary era, in all earnest, commenced when the Soviet Union began sending teams to international tournaments in 1954. Perhaps it is appropriate then that the modern record total for most goals at an Olympic finals should be held by a Soviet player.

More than 40 years have passed since ANATOLI FIRSOV amassed 12 goals in seven games for the USSR at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble. Fellow Soviets VYACHESLAV STARSHINOV and VIKTOR POLUPANOV, Firsov’s linemate, each scored six goals that winter in France. But the closest player from another country, VACLAV NEDOMANSKY of Czechoslovakia, finished with less than half Firsov’s haul on five lamp-lighters.

Included in Firsov’s dozen were a pair of hat tricks registered against East Germany and the United States, respectively, as well as the two important tallies on the tournament’s final day as the Soviet Union shut out Canada 5-0 and clinched the gold medal.

Firsov ended with 16 points to lead all players, as well, in Grenoble. Rightly so, the 27-year-old CSKA Moscow left wing was selected to the media All-Star team. Even more deservedly, Firsov was named the top forward for the tournament by the International Ice Hockey Federation Directorate.

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ANATOLI FIRSOV came to Grenoble having already won the award for top forward at the 1967 IIHF World Championships in Vienna, Austria. Firsov was also selected to the that tournament’s All-Star squad, beginning a four-year streak for that honor lasting thru the 1970 IIHF WC event in Stockholm, Sweden. Firsov also collected an unprecedented third top forward award at the 1971 IIHF World Championships in Switzerland.

In his career, Firsov represented the Soviet Union at the Winter Games three times and contested 20 Olympic games, scoring 20 goals and adding 12 assists for 32 points.

At the Sapporo Games in 1972, Firsov and Soviet teammates VITALY DAVYDOV, VIKTOR KUZKIN and ALEXANDER RAGULIN became the very first ice hockey players in the history of the world to win a third Olympic gold medal.

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