The first strides taken in hockey as we know it in Russia date from the 1930’s.  Up until then a form of hockey played with a ball dominated.  The first official organization for hockey players of all the fifteen republics of the USSR was founded after World War II in 1946.  The first games of a national championship were played that year and the Russians began to learn quickly.  Above all, their model was Czechoslovak ice hockey – the team LTC Prague played three exhibition games in Moscow.  The gifted Russians gained valuable experience and were well-prepared physically.  Only six years later they invited Finland to play their first international match and the Soviet team won 3-1.  This fine result was the beginning of very successful times for Soviet hockey.  Many rivals were disappointed with the Soviets’ near invincibility but at the same time they admired their performances and results.  Soviet players were resolved to do anything for success.  Coaches learned the best from the other hockey countries and gave all their experience to their players and added strength and toughness. Names like Tarasov or Tikhonov were virtual guarantees for a player’s growth.

The power of Soviet hockey was seen in every league club and the teams rarely changed.  Canada, even with its biggest NHL stars experienced the Soviet powerhouse well in the “Series of the Century” in 1972 and in subsequent Canada Cups.

The history of Soviet hockey was plentiful with gold medals and other huge accomplishments but there then came a low period in the 80’s and 90’s.  Hockey players had new opportunities to earn money after the break-up of the Soviet Union.  There were plenty of young talented boys but it was almost impossible to bring them together into a superior national team.  At times, more than five hundred gifted players were performing in European or overseas hockey clubs.  In the last ten years, Russia has won only one medal and Russian fans have been disappointed.  Success did come at the Olympic Games in Nagano where the Russian team with many NHL stars put in an impressive performance and, only lost in the final game to the Czechs 1-0.  The strength of Russia’s junior programme was confirmed in Pardubice and Hradec Kralove in 2002 where the U20 team celebrated victory – a title they defended in Halifax, Canada in 2003.

The Russian team has always been an inscrutable and dangerous rival.  Nobody ever knows which players will accept the invitation to represent the country and what kind of team will be created.  The Russians although are always well-respected rivals.

WEB SITE (Official web site of the Russian Hockey Federation) (Official web site of the Russian Superliga)

You can find the results and the calendar of 2003/04 season HERE

World Championships
USSR) 23 – 1954, 1956, 1963-1971, 1973-1975, 1978-1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, (as Russia) 1993.
Silver: 8 – (as
USSR) 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1972, 1976, 1987, (as Russia) 2002.
Bronze: 5 – (as
USSR) 1960, 1961, 1977, 1985, 1991.

Olympic Games
8 – (as USSR) 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo, 1964 Innsbruck, 1968 Grenoble, 1972 Saporro, 1976 Innsbruck, 1984 Sarajevo, 1988 Calgary, (as “Unified Team”) 1992 Albertville.
Silver: 2 – (as
USSR) 1980 Lake Placid, (as Russia) 1998 Nagano.
Bronze: 2 – (as
USSR) 1960 Squaw Valley, (as Russia) 2002 Salt Lake City.

Top stars: Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov, Vjatcheslav Fetisov, Boris Michajlov, Valeri Charlamov, Alexander Malcev, Vladimir Tretjak, Vladimir Petrov, Anatolij Firsov, Alexander Jakushev, Pavel Bure, Sergei Fjodorov

Best NHL players, 2002-2003
Sergei Fjodorov (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) – 80 games, 36 goals, 47 assists.
Alexander Mogilnyj (Toronto Maple Leafs) – 73 games, 33 + 46.
Alexei Kovaljov (New York Rangers) – 78 games, 37 + 40.
Sergei Goncar (Washington Capitals) – 82 games, 18 + 49.

Silver Medal team from the 2002 World Championship
Jegor Podomackij, Maxim Sokolov, Viktor Cistov.
Defense: Alexander Judin, Sergej Vyshedkevic, Dmitrij Bykov, Anton Voltschenkov, Alexander Guskov, Sergei Gusev, Dmitrij Rjabykin, Sergei Zhukov, Dmitri Kalinin.
Forwards: Maxim Afinogenov, Andrej Kovalenko, Valerij Karpov, Maxim Sushinskij, Roman Ljashenko, Ravil Gusmanov, Vjacheslav Bucajev, Vladimir Antipov, Alexander Prokopjev, Alexander Savchenkov, Ivan Tkachenko, Andrej Razin, Dmitrij Zatonskij, Alexej Kozhnev.

Vladimir Vujtek, coach of Russian league champions Lokomotiv Jaroslavl: “Recently, there has been enough money in Russian hockey and it brings with it the return of top players to the Superliga (the domestic elite league).  Young players can learn a lot from the stars, arenas are often sold out and the popularity of hockey continues to grow.  There were no real Russian national team successes in the 1990’s because the players often had their own agendas but the situation is much better now.  Russians are hardworking and rigorous in their preparation and the coach commands respect from all the players. They are excellent skaters, are in good shape, and are wonderful stick-handlers. The only weakness I can see is that the players are perhaps not quite mentally tough enough.”