Playing under the Olympic flag, covering up the ever-familiar “CCCP” icon on their jerseys, a country with no name made history in Albertville.
Although the IIHF would later declare that the team who defeated Canada to win Gold was in fact, Russia, at the Méribel Ice Palace, it was a team playing as the “Unified Team” who captured the 1992 hockey Gold, and retained the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Both teams played a very defensive game in the first and second periods, with Russia playing smart hockey, anchored by the play of goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov, while Canada was successful in killing off five penalties, with Sean Burke turning away 25 shots through forty minutes, including 15 in the second period. Shots were 25-16 after two, with a number of chances not converting for both squads. But regardless of the score on the board, the tension at Méribel was at high peak, with Canada trying to win its first Gold in 40 years, and the Soviets trying to win their second consecutive gold amidst turmoil and an uncertain future, both in Moscow and the locker room.
The game opened up in the third period, with Vyacheslav Butsayev drawing first blood just 61 seconds into the third, picking up a bouncing rebound and knocking the puck through a sliding Burke’s legs for the 1-0 lead. Despite taking four penalties in a five minute span midway through the third, the Russians held on tight, striking with their second just two minutes after their latest kill, an Igor Boldin rebound chip-in to go ahead 2-0. Chris Lindberg would halve the deficit just under two minutes later, sliding in a Joé Juneau feed past a fallen Shtalenkov to make the score 2-1.
But, never ones to let a potential extra attacker worry them, the Big Red Machine continued to play their dominant hockey right until the end, striking the final blow to Canada’s chances on a Vyacheslav Bykov slap shot past Burke with 69 seconds left in regulation, putting Russia ahead 3-1 and sealing the eighth Olympic Gold Medal for the squad, now a nation made up of a number of smaller nations, a team now with representatives from four different countries: Sergei Bautin of Belarus, Darius Kasparaitis of Lithuania, Alexei Zhitnik and Sergei Petrenko of Ukraine, with the remainder of the team being Russian. While the IIHF’s recognizing of Russia winning Gold would be made final by 1994, the win marked the end of a remarkable era of Soviet hockey, with all Soviet republics contributing to create perhaps the most dominant team in international hockey history.
With the win, the Russians retained the International Hockey Lineal Championship they won from the United States in the semifinals, in a 5-2 victory. Due to the new tournament format at the Olympics, the first elimination tournament since 1920, Russia unified the Gold and IHLC in this fashion for the first time – for more, check out the IHLC @ Olympics & Invitationals page. Team USA entered the Games as champions, winning six straight over Italy, Germany, Finland, Poland, Sweden and France in the Quarterfinals.
The win came during the 36th IHLC reign for the Soviet Union/Russia, just the second under the Russian flag since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the first reign coming at the Sweden Hockey Games in January. This was the first meeting between Russia and Canada for the IHLC since the aforementioned Sweden Hockey Games, where Russia retained the IHLC in a 2-2 tie. Russia would hold on to the title for another 12 games, before dropping the title to Sweden at the 1992 World Championships.
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.