Thursday, February 4, 2016
When the Soviet Union won the 1954 World Championships in their first ever international tournament, they shocked the hockey world.
Canada had reclaimed the world title in 1955 and the two countries were set for a showdown at the 1956 Winter Olympics, which were held in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy and also counted for that year's World Championship.
Canada moved through Group A with a 3-0 record with wins over Germany (4-0), Austria (23-0) and hosts Italy (3-1), while the Soviet Union finished atop Group C with a pair of wins over Sweden (5-1) and Switzerland (10-3) as both teams moved into the Final Round along with the United States, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
On January 30th, both teams got off to the desired starts with Canada winning 6-3 over Czechoslovakia and the Soviets beating Sweden 4-1.
The next day the Soviets put some distance between themselves and Canada with a 8-0 defeat of Germany while Canada lost to the United States 4-1, allowing the USA to keep pace with the Soviets at the top of the standings.
The United States put pressure on the Soviets by winning their third game in three days by downing Sweden 6-1.
February 2nd saw the Soviet Union regain a tie with the USA with a 7-4 win over rivals Czechoslovakia and Canada pummeled Germany 10-0.
The following day Canada remained two points back of the top spot with a 6-2 win over Sweden and the key matchup between the Americans and Soviets went the way of the Soviets 4-0, setting up their awaited showdown with Canada on the final day of the tournament on this date in 1956.
The standing then stood at the Soviet Union at 4-0 for 8 points, and both Canada and the United States at 3-1 tied with 6 points. The United States took care of their part with a 9-4 win over Czechoslovakia and Canada needed a win to keep their gold medal hopes alive.
The decisive game was played outdoors in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,700 spectators. The first period was played scoreless although Canada dominated the action. After controlling play again in the second, Canada was stunned when Yuri Krylov drew first blood for the Soviet Union with a goal at 6:20 of the second. The score remained through the completion of the middle period, but the Soviets put themselves in a strong position just 37 seconds into the third period to take a 2-0 lead.
Soviet goaltender Nikolai Puchkov held the Canadians at bay for the remainder of the game as the Soviet Union won the game, despite being outshot 23-9, to complete the Final Round, and the tournament, undefeated to capture their first Olympic gold medal.
With their victory on the last day the United States earned the silver medal while Canada was awarded the bronze, it's lowest placing since hockey became and Olympic sport in 1920.
The Soviet victory was the beginning of an era of dominance that would stretch from 1956 to 1992, as the Soviet Union took home gold in eight out of ten Olympics, with the only exceptions being in 1960 and 1980 when the United States won on home soil.
Today's featured jersey is a 1956 Soviet National Team Genrikh Sidorenkov jersey as worn during the 1956 Winter Olympics when the Soviet Union won their first Olympic gold medal.
This jersey was the one chosen by Russia to wear as their throwback style for the 2008 World Championships, when each country wore a jersey from their past as part of the IIHF 100th Anniversary celebrations on May 2, 2008 in a 7-2 win over Italy. A jersey that was inexplicably never sold at retail despite being worn by NHL stars Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk plus the rest of the 2008 gold medal winning Russian squad that certainly would have guaranteed enough sales to justify putting this strikingly beautiful jersey into production.
Sidorenkov was a nine time member of the Soviet National Team who scored 15 goals while playing defense in 107 games. He was a Soviet All-Star in 1959, 1960 and 1961. In addition to his time with the National Team, he also played in 310 games, scoring 42 goals, in the Soviet League with the Soviet Wings (1948-1951), CSKA Moscow (1951-1962, 1964-1966) and SKA Leningrad (1962-1964).
He was inducted into the Soviet Hockey Hall of Fame in 1956 when he received the Merited Sports Master Award. In addition to his gold medal in 1956, he also won a bronze medal at the 1960 Olympics. At the World Championships, Sidorenkov won a gold medal in 1954, silver in 1957, 1958 and 1959 and a bronze in 1961.
Today's video selection features the gold medal game from the 1956 Olympics, as the Soviet Union takes on Canada in black and white, followed by the previous contest versus the United States followed again by the game against Canada in glorious living color! We love the number of players wearing stocking caps on the ice and also take notice of the goaltender Puchkov wearing blue hockey pants in contrast to the rest of the team all wearing red ones.