The world champion is locked up in a madhouse. And then the invincible team was born

For 23 years, Czechoslovak hockey has been waiting for the gold medals of the world championships. In the end, the players won it symbolically at home in front of their grateful supporters.

From today’s point of view, the fact that the two overseas teams are absent from the tournament must also be recognized. And the Nordic countries, after the emergence of NHL competition in the form of the WHA, were undercut by a few players trying their luck in North America.

On the other hand, defeating the then Soviet Union, which had won an incredible 10 World Championships and Olympic tournaments in a row, was a feat that would never be forgotten!

The decisive match against the Soviet Union on April 20, 1972 was enjoyed by almost the whole country, and the goals of two future emigrants, Václav Nedomanský and Richard Farda, and the decisive attack of the rebel Jaroslav Holík decided the final result and the gold of 3 :2 for the team host. The next golden era of our hockey has just begun…

World champion in a madhouse, he also plays with Gretzky

Twenty-three year old Rudolf Tajcnár was among the world champions at the time. In 1972 defender Slovan Bratislava had the year of his life. During that time, she also won an Olympic bronze medal. He scored a stunning five goals as a defender in the World Cup and his future looks even brighter. But that’s a big mistake.

His secretary is always rowdy, he also likes to drink, but that time after the World Cup he went overboard and after he got into a fight with some cops in a bar, he should have spent four years in a mental hospital!

Stories from the history of hockey

Photo: Getty Images


List News has prepared a series of articles on the history of the hockey championship. Where was the passion for hockey born, when did the Czechs become champions? An unknown story from the history of this sport.

We are preparing another part.

In the end, he had to alternate there for a year, after which he was able to return to hockey, but not to the national team. He played in the league for Slovan for four more seasons, but then the communist regime smothered him so much that he decided to emigrate. He had been promised a job in Switzerland, but the Czechoslovak Hockey Association, as usual, sentenced him to two years in the IIHF, so Tajcnár, if he wanted to play hockey, just needed to go abroad.

He spent his freshman year on the AHL farm, where he also won a prized Calder Cup, and he missed the first-team NHL appearance of the Philadelphia Flyers only due to an injury at the time he should have been called up. The following year, he even played with a young Wayne Gretzky for the Edmonton Oilers! However, not in the NHL, but in the competitive WHA, where he only got a chance in two duels, otherwise he played mainly on the farm. But his season was again complicated by injury, this time to his knee. Even worse, he was mugged and stabbed during a trip to New York!

After recovering and ending his sentence, he moved to Europe and ended his career in Switzerland. Homesickness was so great in his case that in 1987 he decided to return to Czechoslovakia. He did the seemingly impossible with a forged passport and eventually turned himself in to Public Security in Bratislava. Surprisingly, the police let him go after a thorough interrogation. Subsequently, he supported himself as best he could, but of course he did not return to hockey in any capacity, even after the 1989 coup. He lived alone with mental and alcohol problems. He died at the age of 57 following a heart attack in the summer of 2005.

5 minutes from Olympic gold

Prague’s golden success was only a harbinger of what was to come in the following years. For several years, a world-class team was being built until 1976. At the Olympics in Innsbruck, Czechoslovakia, unfortunately, finished second, also due to an unfortunate concussion and mainly due to an epidemic of flu in the team. It was then, 5 minutes missing from the Olympic gold medal in the game against the Soviets…


World champion. Defenders Machač and Pospíšil and goalkeeper Holeček among them.

At the world championships in Katowice, Poland, the Czechoslovak lions were healthy and, most importantly, hungry. In ten matches of the tournament, they did not know the bitterness of defeat, they only drew once in the predetermined tournament with Sborna (who managed to lose 4: 6 against the hosts and were finally relegated by Poland). At that time, Czechoslovakia celebrated their fourth world title with a huge lead, 6 of the tournament’s top 10 scorers were Czechoslovakia, and Holeček, Pospíšil, Nový, and Martinec were in the tournament’s all-star team. And that’s just the beginning!

The NHL bows down to a small country

In 1976, the first major world tournament with the participation of all the best hockey players in the world took place – the Canada Cup.

There are not the four best European teams, but also the best professionals from the NHL in uniforms from Canada and the United States. Although Czechoslovakia arrived as world champions, foreign journalists did not take it seriously. They were especially interested in the defeat of the Soviets. The famous Canadian coach Scotty Bowman even stated that only a good jersey attracted him to the Czechoslovak team. But on September 9, 1976, in Canada, they couldn’t help but admit that there was a great hockey player in a small country in the middle of Europe who was able to beat the proud star of the NHL.

It was then that thirty-four year old experienced goalkeeper Vladimír Dzurilla, who looked more like a replacement for Jiří Holeček, had the duel of his life. He first received ridicule when he slipped while stepping on the ice. But then the fans in Montreal stopped smiling. The stocky fighter from Bratislava, who was supposed to end his career in Brno, is completely undefeated on foreign ice. The Canadian stars did the possible and the impossible to beat the bubbly Slovakian, but to no avail.

And when Milan Nový scored less than 5 minutes from the end, it was a legendary 1:0 victory. For the first time, our hockey players beat Canada in its strongest lineup! The Czechoslovak team eventually made it to the final of the tournament, but not enough to beat Canada in two matches. But nothing can shake the recognition of the birthplace of hockey from Czechoslovakia.

Goalkeeper Rogatien Vachon said in the aftermath of his hard-fought victory: “These guys are sharp as nails, but they have friendly hearts. I’ll never forget what happened when I caught the hardest shot of the game. The guy who shot came up to me and patted me on the back in appreciation.” Let’s add that that player was Vladimír Martinec, who was playing in his prime at the time.

Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are unlucky

In 1977, the defense of the world title in Vienna was made even more difficult as, years later, overseas selection returned to the tournament, even with permission to start professionally from the NHL. So far, there hasn’t been much interest in a European start, so Canada received an 11:1 dard from the Soviet Union, for example. But tough overseas professionals have also had better days, such as when they drew 3:3 with Czechoslovakia. Then our selection even lost to the Soviets 1:6 and the defense seemed to lose. But these warriors did not give up. They beat back-to-back Sweden, USA, in the final group USSR, Sweden again, and all they had to do to win the gold medal was beat Canada.

But the crafty grinders with maple leaves on their jerseys stepped up to excellent form and won a landslide victory of 8:2. Titles seem lost for defenders, but like 30 years ago, opponents helped. Sweden unexpectedly beat the Soviets 3:1 and this won the fifth gold in Czechoslovak history. For the first time our hockey defended the title of world champion!

A year later in Prague, all the fans believed in the third gold bead in a row. Everything went like clockwork from the start, seven matches in the base group, seven wins and the famous hat-trick by František Černík against the Soviets. This choice just had power! In the final group, the home team beat Sweden and Canada again, and in the final duel with the USSR, it was enough to lose by one goal! This should work, the fans thought to themselves… But Czechoslovakia lost the game 1:3. What to say Martinec may have scored the second goal, the referee did not recognize it.

Decisions are made by one goal! We’ll have to wait almost a quarter of a century for a golden hat trick…

Julia Craig

"Certified bacon geek. Evil social media fanatic. Music practitioner. Communicator."

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