Tretiak’s Triumphant Ending



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

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

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

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

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

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

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