Milestone Trophy:

1954 Soviet Union World Championship team

Modern international hockey began in 1954. This declaration can be supported by one score, a score that sent shockwaves through the hockey world. Playing in its first ever international tournament, the Soviet Union humbled long-time World Champions Canada by a 7-2 score on March 7, 1954, the final day of the World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.

For the first time, it was clear Canada had a rival and adversary that could beat it any time the two teams played. Canada won the next year, lost in 1956, and continued to have the upper hand until 1961, but thereafter it was the Soviets who dominated.

Although the Soviets had played hockey for several years within their borders, the 1954 Worlds was the first international appearance by Soviet Union. No one knew the players before the opening game, an easy 7-1 win over Finland, but they became known quickly. Nikolai Puchkov was the world-class goalie and Vsevelod Bobrov was given the Directorate Award as the Best Forward in the tournament.

The Soviets won their next two games with expected ease, defeating Norway, 7-0, and then West Germany, 6-2, but the tournament took on new excitement when CCCP defeated Czechoslovakia, 5-2. The Czechoslovaks were regarded as the only nation close to Canada, and this put the East York Lyndhursts, Canada’s representatives that year, on notice.

The Soviets then beat Switzerland, 4-2, and settled in for a game against the host Swedes on March 5. But for a bit of luck and chance, history might have been radically different. The two teams played scoreless hockey for 40 minutes, and it was Tre Kronor that struck first when Gosta Johansson scored two minutes into the final period. The Swedes held the fort for most of the period, but with less than five minutes to play Viktor Shuvalov tied the game, setting up a gold-medal showdown against unbeaten Canada.

In truth, the game wasn’t even close. The Soviets blitzed Canada with four unanswered goals in the opening period, and although Canada made it 4-1 early in the second, it was a 7-1 game after two periods. At the final horn, the Soviets celebrated a victory that not only earned them gold but transformed the landscape of international hockey forever.

1954 Soviet Union World Championship team (Arkadi Chernyshev, coach) GK—Grigori Mkrtychan, Nikolai Puchkov—Yevgeni Babich, Vsevolod Bobrov, Mikhail Bychkov, Alexei Guryshev, Nikolai Khlystov, Alexander Komarov, Yuri Krylov, Alfred Kuchevski, Valentin Kuzin, Viktor Shuvalov, Genrikh Sidorenkov, Dmitri Ukolov, Alexander Uvarov, Alexander Vinogradov, Pavel Zhiburtovich

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