Ice hockey at the 1972 Winter Olympics

The men's ice hockey tournament at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, was the 12th Olympic Championship. Games were held at the Makomanai Ice Arena and at the Tsukisamu Indoor Skating Rink.[1] The Soviet Union won its fourth gold medal. The United States won the silver, while Czechoslovakia won the bronze. Canada did not send a team to the event for the first time since ice hockey was first competed at the Olympics in 1920, instead competing with and defeating the Soviets in a competition later that year known as the Summit Series.[2] Canada would not send a men's hockey team to the Olympics until 1980.

Ice hockey at the 1972 Winter Olympics
Tournament details
Host country Japan
Dates3–13 February
Final positions
Champions  Soviet Union (4th title)
Runner-up  United States
Third place  Czechoslovakia
Fourth place Sweden
Tournament statistics
Matches played30
Goals scored235 (7.83 per match)
Scoring leader(s) Valeri Kharlamov (16 points)


Team Canada

For the first time since ice hockey was introduced at the Olympic Games in 1920, Canada did not send a team to the 1972 Olympics after Canadian Minister of Health and Welfare John Munro announced the withdrawal of the team from all international competitions in response to the International Ice Hockey Federation opposition to allowing professional players at international competitions.[2] Canadian officials were frustrated that their best players, competing in the National Hockey League, were prevented from playing while Soviet players, who were "employees" of the industrial or military organizations that fielded "amateur" teams, were allowed to compete.[3] At that point, the Canadian men's ice hockey team was the most successful team in the world, having won six of the eleven tournaments previously competed, with medals in ten of the eleven tournaments (and a controversial post-tournament rule change denying them a perfect eleven medals). Canada would not compete internationally in hockey until 1977, when the IIHF adopted eligibility rules that allowed for professional players to compete.[2] Instead of competing internationally at the Olympics, Canadian officials helped organize a series of games against the Soviet Union in 1972 known as the Summit Series.

Team USA

While the 1980 team had the celebrated "Miracle on Ice" and the 1960 US team had the "Forgotten Miracle", the 1972 team could be called the "completely overlooked miracle." The U.S. team was expected to finish 5th behind the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Finland. The Soviet and Czech teams were especially powerful as there was no distinction between amateurs and pros in communist countries; these teams were made up of seasoned professionals and were ranked 1 & 2 in the world. Valeri Kharlamov of the Soviet Union was considered one of the world's best players and experts agree he would have been a star in the NHL. The same can be said for Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. In fact, this was basically the same Soviet Team that played a Canadian team composed of NHL All Stars in the 1972 Summit Series that Canada narrowly won, 4–3–1. While like the 1980 team many of its players were college stand-outs, the team also included US Army soldiers, experienced hands from the then-senior amateur USHL, and the tournament's youngest player in Mark Howe, age 16 and in his second season of junior hockey.

After qualifying for Group A by beating Switzerland 5–3, the U.S. lost as expected to Sweden, 5–1. Then they pulled off the upset of the tournament when they beat Czechoslovakia, 5–1. This surprising result was nearly as astonishing as the wins over the Soviets in 1960 and 1980. After losing as expected to the Soviet Union, the young Americans upset Finland. In the final games of the competition, the U.S. beat Poland while Finland beat Sweden and the Soviets beat the Czechs (in the game that decided the gold medal); those results boosted the U.S. from 4th to 2nd for an unexpected silver medal.


Gold: Silver: Bronze:
 Soviet Union
Vladislav Tretiak
Alexander Pashkov
Vitaly Davydov
Viktor Kuskin
Alexander Ragulin
Gennadiy Tsygankov
Vladimir Lutchenko
Valeri Vasiliev
Igor Romishevsky
Yevgeni Mishakov
Alexander Maltsev
Alexander Yakushev
Vladimir Vikulov
Anatoly Firsov
Valeri Kharlamov
Yury Blinov
Boris Mikhailov
Vladimir Petrov
Vladimir Shadrin
Yevgeni Zimin
 United States
Mike Curran
Pete Sears
Wally Olds
Tom Mellor
Frank Sanders
Jim McElmury
Charles Brown
Dick McGlynn
Ronald Naslund
Robbie Ftorek
Stu Irving
Kevin Ahearn
Henry Boucha
Craig Sarner
Timothy Sheehy
Keith Christiansen
Mark Howe
Tim Regan
Bruce McIntosh
Vladimír Dzurilla
Jiří Holeček
Vladimír Bednář
Rudolf Tajcnár
Oldřich Machač
František Pospíšil
Josef Horešovský
Karel Vohralík
Václav Nedomanský
Jiří Holík
Jaroslav Holík
Jiří Kochta
Eduard Novák
Richard Farda
Josef Černý
Vladimír Martinec
Ivan Hlinka
Bohuslav Šťastný

First round

Fourteen nations qualified, but East Germany, Romania and France all chose not to travel for primarily financial reasons. The remaining eleven nations were seeded according to their placement in the 1971 World Championships with first place (USSR) and the five winners to play in Group A to for 1st–6th places. The five losers played in Group B for 7th–11th places. 1971 ranking appears in parentheses.

  • February 3
    • Japan (11th) 2–8 Czechoslovakia (2nd)
    • Sweden (3rd) 8–1 Yugoslavia (12th)
  • February 4
    • USA (6th) 5–3 Switzerland (7th)
    • Poland (8th) 4–0 West Germany (5th)
    • Finland (4th) 13–1 Norway (10th)

Final round

First place team wins gold, second silver and third bronze.

Rank Team Pld W L T GF GA Pts
1  Soviet Union 540133139
2  United States 532018156
3  Czechoslovakia 532026136
4  Sweden 522117135
5  Finland 523014244
6  Poland 50509390
  • February 5
    • Sweden 5–1 USA
    • Czechoslovakia 14–1 Poland
    • USSR 9–3 Finland
  • February 7
    • USSR 3–3 Sweden
    • USA 5–1 Czechoslovakia
    • Finland 5–1 Poland
  • February 8
    • Czechoslovakia 7–1 Finland
  • February 9
    • Sweden 5–3 Poland
    • USSR 7–2 USA
  • February 10
    • USSR 9–3 Poland
    • Czechoslovakia 2–1 Sweden
    • USA 4–1 Finland
  • February 12
    • USA 6–1 Poland
  • February 13
    • Finland 4–3 Sweden
    • USSR 5–2 Czechoslovakia

Consolation Round

Teams, which lost their games in the qualification round, played in this group.

Rank Team Pld W L T GF GA Pts
7  West Germany 431022106
8  Norway 431016146
9  Japan 421117165
10   Switzerland 40229162
11 Yugoslavia 40319171
  • February 6
    • Norway 5–2 Yugoslavia
    • West Germany 5–0 Switzerland
  • February 7
    • Japan 3–3 Switzerland
    • West Germany 6–2 Yugoslavia
  • February 9
    • Japan 3–2 Yugoslavia
    • West Germany 5–1 Norway
  • February 10
    • Japan 4–5 Norway
    • Switzerland 3–3 Yugoslavia
  • February 12
    • Japan 7–6 West Germany
    • Norway 5–3 Switzerland

Leading scorers

Player GP G A Pts
Valeri Kharlamov 59716
Václav Nedomanský 68311
Craig Sarner 64610
Kevin Ahearn 6639
Vladimir Vikulov 5538
Aleksandr Maltsev 5437
Jiří Kochta 6437
Anatoli Firsov 5257
Yuri Blinov 5336
Richard Farda 6156

Final ranking

  1.  Soviet Union
  2.  United States
  3.  Czechoslovakia
  4.  Sweden
  5.  Finland
  6.  Poland
  7.  West Germany
  8.  Norway
  9.  Japan
  10.   Switzerland
  11.  Yugoslavia


  1. "Ice Hockey at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games". Sports Reference. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  2. "1972 Winter Olympic Games". Hockey Canada. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  3. "Ice Hockey at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games: Men's Ice Hockey". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
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