For the USSR team, the Olympic Games in Calgary was the ninth, and, as it turns out a little later, the last in history. Since 1956, our national team has dominated all Olympic tournaments, winning seven gold medals out of nine possible. 1988 was no exception.
Two months before the tournament in Alberta, the IOC decided to change the rules on the presence of professionals, allowing them to participate in the Olympic tournament. But this decision did not bring the proper effect: the NHL had a regular championship, so the best players in the world did not have the opportunity to come to the Olympic tournament.
However, the Canadian team found an opportunity to bring two current Stanley Cup winners: Edmonton goalkeeper Andy Moog, who went on strike to his club because of disagreements over the terms of the contract, and defender Randy Gregg, who deliberately left his club to participate in the Olympic Games in the heart of Canada’s oil industry. Later it will turn out that such strengthening does not correspond even to the level of the three Olympic medalists.
At the group stage, the USSR team easily took first place in their group, having the difference of pucks 32-10 after five meetings. The only meeting at that stage, in which there was at least some semblance of intrigue, was a game with the U.S. national team. Americans still drew inspiration from the “Miracle on Ice” of 1980, so with particular trepidation waited for a new meeting with Soviet hockey players. In America, that match was broadcast on ABC, which bought the rights to the Olympics for $300 million and dreamed of repeating a miracle match in Lake Placid to recoup its investment.
But after the second period, the scoreboard burned figures 6:2 in favor of the Soviet team, and the TV channel in the hearts of the decision to interrupt the broadcast, so as not to show this shame on the whole country. However, in the third twenty minutes, the U.S. team threw three pucks and returned the intrigue to the match, and ABC resumed the show of the meeting. But that evening the American dream was not destined to come true: Vyacheslav Fetisov threw the seventh puck into the U.S. goal and saved his team from a nervous ending.
In the first period of that meeting, the teams looked at each other and studied each other, postponing all the fun for the remaining forty minutes of the game. In the second period of the game, our team threw two unanswered pucks, and in the third not only left its goal intact but also hit the opponent’s goal three more times. The match ended with a crushing victory of the Soviet team with a score of 5-0.
“The Games in Calgary were easier for us than the Sarajevo Olympics, where the teams were more serious. Although there are two options – either we prepared so well, or the teams were weaker. It was not so difficult in Canada because we had a real team in which every hockey player was charged with a thirst for victory. Plus Viktor Tikhonov and Vladimir Yurzinov were coming up with some things,” recalled Alexander Kozhevnikov.