The days of the Soviet hockey superiority were over. Even the Soviet Union as a country had ceased to exist on 26 December 1991, when the USSR dissolved and was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States.
During the 1992 IIHF World U20 Championship in Germany, the Soviet team had to change its name from Soviet Union to CIS midway through the tournament, on 01 January 1992.
Roughly one month later, the Olympics were about to begin in Albertville, France. Authoritarian head coach Viktor Tikhonov had lost virtually all the power he had during the 1970s and ‘80s, and his famous “Green Unit” with Fetisov, Kasatonov, Larionov, Krutov and Makarov were all playing in the NHL.
Tikhonov had to change his approach to coax veterans Vyacheslav Bykov, Andrei Khomutov and Alexei Zhamnov play for him and also to get the maximum out of whimsical youngsters such as Darius Kasparaitis, Alexei Kovalev, and Yevgeni Davydov.
Despite the absence of superstars, the Soviet / Russian team had no problems with talent but with identity. The famous lettering “CCCP” on the sweaters had been taken away, only to be replaced by nothing. After each victory on ice, there was no national anthem, only the Olympic hymn. Finally, the national red flag with hammer and sickle was also gone. The players were told to salute the Olympic rings instead.
All symbols aside, the team played traditional Soviet hockey in the small Albertville arena. It lost one preliminary round game, to Czechoslovakia, but defeated the Eric Lindros-led Team Canada and cruised comfortably to the playoffs. The Russians defeated Finland 6-1 in the quarter-finals, Team USA 5-2 in the semis, and faced historic foe Canada in the first-ever one-game-wins-all Olympic final.
The Canadians, without NHL players, competed as well as they could, but they were outmatched by the far more talented Russians, who won 3-1. Usually, when the old Soviet teams won gold medals, the players and coaches were composed, showing very little emotion. This group was different. After the final horn, they jumped around like school kids and held leader Vyacheslav Bykov aloft in a “golden chair.” They listened rather listlessly to an anthem that wasn’t theirs and after the gold medal ceremony the players gathered around Viktor Tikhonov and produced one of the few team pictures where the old coach looked genuinely happy.
After the game, Tikhonov didn’t want to leave the press conference. He stayed behind after the official question period was over, eager to tell everyone through an interpreter that he valued this Olympic gold medal more than all the other wins in his 14 years behind the national team bench. “We had no stars. We won this Olympic gold with youngsters. This is why I am so happy,” he said.
This was Tikhonov’s last hurrah in international hockey. He would return for the 1994 Olympics and also for the 2003 World Championship, but with no success. Eventually, the IIHF erased all trace of “CIS” in the record books and credited the gold medal to the new nation, Russia.
07:41 – 🇷🇺 PEN – D. Mironov, interference
10:45 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Juneau, high sticking
12:33 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Joseph, slashing
16:01 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Giles, tripping
30:32 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Kovalyov, slashing
30:32 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Manderville, cross checking
36:56 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lindros, holding
41:01 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Butsayev (Davydov)
42:14 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Woolley, high sticking
48:33 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Zhamnov, slashing
50:08 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Bautin, holding
50:46 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Archibald, hooking
52:05 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Prokhorov, holding
53:06 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Shtalenkov, delay of game
55:54 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Boldin (Borshevski, Prokhorov)
57:20 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Lindberg (Juneau, Woolley)
58:51 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Bykov (Khomutov)
W: 🇷🇺 Shtalenkov (21-22)
L: 🇨🇦 Burke (34-37)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇷🇺 10+15+12 = 37
🇨🇦 10+6+6 = 22
🇷🇺 Goaltenders: Mikhail Shtalenkov, Andrei Trefilov. Defence: Sergei Bautin, Darius Kasparaitis, Igor Kravchuk, Vladimir Malakhov, Dmitri Mironov, Dmitri Yushkevich, Alexei Zhitnik, Sergei Zubov. Forwards: Igor Boldin, Nikolai Borshevski, Vyacheslav Butsayev, Vyacheslav Bykov (C), Yevgeni Davydov, Yuri Khmylyov, Andrei Khomutov, Andrei Kovalenko, Alexei Kovalyov, Sergei Petrenko, Vitali Prokhorov, Alexei Zhamnov.
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Sean Burke, Trevor Kidd. Defence: Kevin Dahl, Curt Giles, Gordon Hynes, Adrien Plavsic, Dan Ratushny, Brad Schlegel (C), Brian Tutt, Jason Woolley. Forwards: Dave Archibald (A), Todd Brost, Dave Hannan, Fabian Joseph, Joé Juneau, Patrick Lebeau, Chris Lindberg, Eric Lindros, Kent Manderville, Wallace Schreiber, Randy Smith (A), Dave Tippett.
|🇷🇺 RUSSIA (C)||vs.||CANADA 🇨🇦|
(since 21 Feb 1992)
||13 Nov 1991|
(+ 12 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (RUS vs. CAN)
🇷🇺 URS 7-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 07 Mar 1954 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (RUS vs. CAN)
🇷🇺 RUS 2-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 31 Jan 1992 – SHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Last IHLC Game
🇷🇺 EUN 5-2 USA 🇺🇸 – 21 Feb 1992 – OG – Méribel 🇫🇷
|Next IHLC Game
🇷🇺 RUS 2-2 SWE 🇸🇪 – 12 Apr 1992 – EX – Moscow 🇷🇺