Puchkov helped lead Russia's rise in international game – NHL.com

MONTREAL — The first thing you notice — how can you not? — is the leather cycling helmet on the head of Nikolai Puchkov, as crude as the boxy catching glove he is stabbing into the air.

Puchkov’s tongue is thrust out just a little. His eyes, and those of Canada’s Doug Kilburn, follow the puck, which might or might not be in the net. 

This arresting 1955 image freezes the father of Russian goaltending, a man faithful to the quirky customs of his NHL contemporaries Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall.

Puchkov would be the template, even the inspiration for a schoolboy named Vladislav Tretiak, the magnificent Russian over whom Canada would suffer a nervous breakdown during the eight games of the historic 1972 Summit Series.

Puchkov is photographed in the gold-medal game of the 1955 World Hockey Championship in Krefeld, Germany, played before a sellout of 9,000 fans. The 5-0 victory for Canada, represented by the senior national-champion Penticton (British Columbia) Vees, restored pride in a nation whose Senior B amateur East York (Ontario) Lyndhursts had been humiliated 7-2 a year earlier by the U.S.S.R. in the Soviets’ debut on the world stage.

Until the Lyndhursts’ embarrassing loss, Canada had outscored its opponents 510-50 and was 70-2 in tournament games dating to 1930; both defeats were by a single goal — a 2-1 overtime decision to the U.S. in 1933 and 3-2 to Czechoslovakia in 1949.

To this day, many Canadians of a certain age view Tretiak, who retired in 1984, as the only noteworthy goalie to come out of Russia. It has not helped that his countrymen haven’t exactly dominated NHL goaltending; only one has won the Stanley Cup, Nikolai Khabibulin with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.

Last season, however, Sergei Bobrovsky of

Read More Here...

This entry was posted in Hockey News. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.