Year 1972: Big Home Win

The World Championship returned to Prague after a 13-year hiatus. The 1972 tournament was unique as it was to occur in April for the first time – running from 7-22 April. The Czechoslovak players had only one dream – to defeat the Soviet team!

The coaches Pitner and Kostka had almost the same team that they had had at the Winter Olympics in Sapporo where Czechoslovakia had come third. The only exception was Josef Cerny who said he felt too old or better to say – the fans made him feel too old!

Throughout the tournament, Prague was afflicted with “Gold Fever”. The hockey players, who were being accommodated in a hotel near Prague, were completely taken care of. Only a small group of people looked after them, they could not even meet with journalists or family members.

The championship had only one group consisting of six teams. Each team played against the others twice. The Czechoslovaks beat Switzerland 19-1 and 12-2, Germany by a score of 8-1 in both their games, Finland 5-3 and 8-3, and Sweden 4-1 and 2-0.

The toughest games though were still ahead for the home team – the Soviet Union. The Soviets, coached by Vsevolod Bobrov, were solid and self-confident. Their goalie Vladislav Tretjak was simply amazing, their defenceman Ragulin was like a stone wall and the shots of Malcev, Charlamov, Michailov, and Petrov were always very, very dangerous. The first game resulted in a 3-3 tie, although the home team had been leading 2-0 in the middle of the game.

From the opening face-off of the second game, the Czechoslovaks were put under immense pressure – but they helped out in front for their great goailie Jiri Holecek. He stopped everything that came through and the Soviet shooters were getting desperate. At the end of the first period Martinec broke in and scored for Czechoslovakia 1-0! Only 37 seconds later, Martinec scored again to make it 2-0. The whole host country was in a state of excitement, while the Soviet team could only have been shocked.

But the Soviets quite quickly regained their composure and Malcev scored: 2-1. Then Jaroslav Holik scored and the Czechoslovaks were leading by two once again: 3-1. Although Charlamov scored, in the end it couldn’t help the Soviets much…for the last thirty seconds of the third period they played with an empty-net for the man advantage but the countdown had begun…ten seconds, nine, eight…and Czechoslovakia was the World Champion for the first time since 1949!

Jiri Holik’s memories: “I was never happier in my hockey career. I was so proud when the final buzzer sounded. We won the gold and we won it at home. My brother and I spent most of our time just hugging each other.“ (Note: Jiri’s brother – Jaroslav – played on the same line with his brother, now he is a coach and has guided the Czech national team to two World Junior Championship titles.)

The tournament All-Star Team included the goalie Holecek, and defensman Machac and Pospisil. The captain, Frantisek Pospisil, was also named the tournament’s best defensman.

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

World Champions - Czechoslovakia: Holecek, Dzurilla, Machac, Pospisil, Bubla, Horesovsky, Kuzela, Tajcnar, Bednar, Klapac, Jiri Holik, Jaroslav Holik, Kochta, Nedomansky, Haas, Martinec, Hlinka, Stastny, Farda, Palecek. Coaches: Jaroslav Pitner and Vladimír Kostka

Lenka Jiroutova

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