The 1969 Ice Hockey World Cup has gone down in history as the most legendary. There are two reasons for this. It is the most even championship of all time and it was the two games between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. In the end, the Soviet Union became world champions, Sweden number 2 and Czechoslovakia third. All these got the same score, Sweden beat Czechoslovakia in the last game with 1-0. In the event of a draw, Czechoslovakia would become world champions, in the event of a 2-goal victory for Sweden, Sweden would win. But above all, it is the two matches between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia that are legendary. The backdrop was of course the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, when Prague was brutally beaten down in the spring .
Ice Hockey World Cup 1969
In fact, this World Cup was supposed to be held in Czechoslovakia. However, due to the Soviet invasion a few months earlier, Czechoslovakia refused to host the World Cup. Therefore, the championship was moved to Stockholm.
The Soviet Union had won the WC for the last 6 years and before this championship a double series had been introduced, so that it would be more difficult to win the championship. In those days, the World Cup was played as a league and not a play-off with knock-out matches after an initial group stage as now.
The legendary ice hockey matches
The two countries met twice during the championship. First time in the preliminary games. These were the battles Czechoslovakia could not or would not lose. It was the fight above all fights, it was the fight for revenge after the Soviet Union’s invasion after the Prague Spring.
Coincidentally, this was the first championship where body contact was allowed across the pitch. Previously, it was not allowed in the middle zone. The change led to an even more physical game, especially in these games, where more than one victory in an ice hockey game was at stake. For the Czechs, it was a fight for revenge and for national identity. For the citizens of Czechoslovakia, it was a war on ice. Czechoslovakia, where ice hockey is the national sport and part of the culture.
The matches were intense, a nerve out of the ordinary. The Soviet Union lost two games in this championship, the two games against Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia won the first match 2-0, the last 4-3.
The fact that the Soviet Union won the World Cup was probably something the Czechs did not like. But it was probably drowned in the joy of the revenge their ice warriors had obtained against the Soviet Union. The legendary battles became Czechoslovakia’s revenge.