Year 1978: Only One Point Away…

When the 45th World Championship took place in Prague in the year 1978, the heart of every true Czechoslovak hockey fan was beating wildly and it had only one wish: a Gold Hat-trick! The national team of Czechoslovakia had won the tournaments in Katowice (Poland) 1976 and in Vienna (Austria) in 1977 too. “Please, please, please let them win for a third time in a row…“ could sum up the hockey dreams of the whole country.

The players even stayed in the same hotel as they did the last time they won at home in 1972. The coaches were Karel Gut and Jan Starsi. Remaining from the Golden Team of ’72 were only Vladimir Martinec, Ivan Hlinka, Jiri Holecek, Oldrich Machac, and Jiri Bubla.


Among the newcomers were names such as Augusta, Cernik, Crha, Zajicek, and Richter.
In total there were eight teams longing for the Cup: next to Czechoslovakia came Canada, the USA, Finland, Sweden, both West Germany and East Germany and, of course, the Soviet Union. The system in place for the tournament made teams play with all rivals once, and then broke into two groups. In the first group the teams would fight for from first to fourth place, in the second group for fifth to eighth place.

The tournament’s beginning was very auspicious for the home team: they defeated first the East German team 10-0, Finland 6-4, and Canada, whose team included Dionne, Maruk, Picard, and Bouchard from the NHL, 5-0. They also beat the USA 8-3. And then came – The Game. The game against the Soviet Union. The Soviets were trained by Victor Tichonov and had the legendary Trejtak in goal. In the very first minutes Frantisek Cernik scored a hat-trick but by the middle of the game it was 3-3. In the final period, the Soviets made a few costly errors allowing the home team to capitalize and take the victory by a score of 6-4. The last rival for the Czechoslovaks in the basic group, Sweden, were defeated by a whisker: 2-3.

The first game in the final group for the home team was against Canada. In the 3rd minute it was 2-0 for the Canadians. But the Czechoslovaks showed their mettle and ended up winning 3-2. They then once again beat Sweden 6-1.

The last rival which stood in the way to the gold were the Soviets. According to the standings and the particular rules of the tournament, the Czechoslovaks could even lose the game but only by a difference of one goal. In the first period, Balderis split the Czechoslovak defense and scored to make it 1-0. In the second period the score was widened to 2-0. In the beginning of the third period, it became 3-0. But then Ivan Hlinka scored to make it 3-1, and then seemingly Vladimir Martinec to make it 3-2… But Czechoslovak hopes were dashed when the goal was disallowed. And thus, with their one goal difference the Soviets took the championship title. Silver had a bitter taste for the host Czechoslovaks.

To the tournament’s All-Star Team were named: Holecek, Bubla, and Hlinka (all CZE) and Fetisov, Malcev, and Kapustin (Soviet Union). Jiri Holecek took top honours as best goalie of the championship.

Final Standings: 1st place Soviet Union, 2nd Czechoslovakia, 3rd Canada.

World Champions - Soviet Union: Tretjak, Paskov, Lutcenko, Fetisov, Vasilijev, Pjervuchin, Cygankov, Biljaletdinov, Fjodorov, Michajlov, Petrov, Charlamov, Malcev, V. Golikov, A. Golikov, Balderis, Zluktov, Kapustin, Lebedev, Makarov.

Team Czechoslovakia: Holecek, Crha, Kaberle, Kajkl, Machac, Chalupa, Dvorak, Bubla, Zajicek, Martinec, Hlinka, Augusta, J.Novak, Ebermann, Richter, M. Stastny, P. Stastny, Cernik, Novy, Pouzar. Coaches: Karel Gut and Jan Starsi

Lenka Jiroutova

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