Russia’s top Worlds moments
Russia’s top Worlds moments
Bykov rates best memories since ‘90s
Vyacheslav Bykov is a seven-time world champion. He has won gold medals five times as a player (1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1993) and twice as a coach (2008, 2009).
“I have only missed a few tournaments if counting from 1983,” says Bykov, who has been part of the event either as a player, coach or spectator. “I have always tried to come to the World Championship to watch hockey. I am pleased to draft the top-10. But I shall stress upon the fact that whenever I name someone, it is only to highlight a great goal - as a result of the whole team. After all, only the team can be a winner.”
Here are Bykov’s top-ten World Championship moments of the upcoming World Championship host in the post-Soviet era.
10. Beating Sweden on home ice in Moscow (2007)
The Russian team had been winning all its games until it met Finland in the semi-finals. It was 1-1 after regulation time and but in overtime Mikko Koivu beat Yeryomenko (2-1). Still, the Russians took a medal, defeating the Swedes in the bronze medal game (3-1).
Bykov: “The main outcome of the championship was that the guys were able to regain their self-respect. Do you remember how our players used to be booed and abused at every corner? And then we were winning nine out of ten games. Fans liked the Russian team.”
9. Malkin against the Swedes in Ostrava (2015)
The Swedes arrived in Ostrava for the quarter-finals and were considered favourites. Russia was leading 3-0 but Tre Kronor came back and made it 3-3. Everything was decided with two goals and an assist of Yevgeni Malkin, who was fantastic that night’s 5-3 win.
Bykov: “The benefit performance goes to Malkin, but I would also note the goalkeeper Bobrovski. This tandem inspired the team, which reached silver in Prague. That is the role of the leaders of the team who can change the course of any game.”
8. Datsyuk’s goal in Cologne (2010)
Russia was composed of a dozen NHL stars, but the semi-finals with the hosts was very hard. The Germans opened the scoring in the first period, Malkin equalized in the second. But Datsyuk scored the winning goal – 110 seconds before the end of the game that ended with a 2-1 win.
Bykov: “We were unlucky in the final with the Czechs (2-1 loss). That Russian team had big ambitions and wishes. The goal of Datsyuk guaranteed the silver medal. However, we did not achieve the main target. This was a heavy blow.”
7. Malkin against the Swedes in Stockholm (2012)
The Russians had a difficult start in the World Championship. However, everything changed in the game against Sweden, who was leading 3-1. Then Malkin scored a hat trick and made two assists (7-3). This was the best game ever of “Geno” for the Russian team.
Bykov: “Malkin played brilliantly. But I would also mention Yemelin, who scored a goal and tied the game at 3-3. The Swedes then had 16 NHL players and wanted to win the gold at their home tournament but Russia became the champion and that was the turning moment.”
6. Final with Finland in Minsk (2014)
It was a unique situation. Oleg Znarok was disqualified. He was replaced by his assistant Harijs Vitolins, who had no experience as a head coach. And this is the World Championship final! However, Russia won (5-2), scoring 10 wins in as many games.
Bykov: “Vilolins was great, however, there were also others who went to the final without experience. It was great that we won the gold in an ally country in front of ours and the Belarusian fans. We hit all 10 targets like in the biathlon.”
5. Nabokov's arrival in Quebec (2008)
The situation with the goaltenders was difficult to say at least. Varlamov first got an injury at the training camp, followed by Yeryomenko. Young Biryukov and a vacant position were left. It was filled by Nabokov, who after losing in the NHL playoffs arrived to the Russian team on the first call.
Bykov: “It is not right that we have not mentioned goaltenders before. Nabby played very well during that tournament. Though I am against this type of definition: he arrived and helped. Nabokov was simply with us and he strengthened the team.”
4. Kaigorodov's goal in Bratislava (2011)
Russia was left without medals, but it won the quarter-final game against Canada (2-1). The maple leafs were the ones to attack the most and led 1-0. But at the 50th minute, during the penalty kill, Kaigorodov escaped with the puck from the own zone like a rocket and scored an amazing goal.
Bykov: “Our Russian team never lost against the Canadians in the World Championships [in those years]. Kaigorodov’s goal, I can say without false modesty, was a real masterpiece.”
3. The final against Sweden in Munich (1993)
The first gold of Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union was in 1993. After a third-place finish in the group the Russians won all games against Germany (5-1), Canada (7-4) and in the final against Sweden (3-1). Bykov was still a player on that team.
Bykov: “I shall mention Boris Mikhailov – the first coach who led Russia to a gold medal. We had a young team, which was considered a dark horse. This victory allowed many young guys to be revealed, to become stars.”
2. Radulov’s goal in Berne (2009)
The team was covered in an avalanche of injuries, but Russia reached the final with Canada for the second year in a row. The Canadians were more powerful (38-17 on shots), but Bykov’s team survived. In the 35th minute Radulov scored the game-winning goal in the 2-1 victory.
Bykov: “It is harder to keep the title than to win it. Furthermore, we had many injuries in Berne. We were not able to talk about this with media, but we almost had no fit players in the dressing-room. And Radulov’s goal was very beautiful.”
1. Kovalchuk’s goal in Quebec (2008)
Russia’s best World Championship in history, do you agree? It was the 100-year anniversary of international ice hockey in Quebec City. The final in the motherland of our game was Canada vs. Russia. Canada led 4-2 after two periods but the Russians equalized. In overtime when Nash cleared the puck over the glass, Kovalchuk capitalized with a decisive shot for the 5-4 win. It was Russia’s first gold after 15 years.
Bykov: “Without any doubt I place Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal at the first place. Eight years have already passed but when I think of Quebec, I am overwhelmed with emotions. The champions’ dressing room was filled with happiness. Even now I have tears of joy in my eyes.”
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