Host City: Sapporo, Japan
Venue(s): Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink, Sapporo; Tsukisaumu Indoor Skating Rink, Sapporo
Date Started: February 3, 1972
Date Finished: February 13, 1972
Format: Qualifying round placed teams into final and consolation round-robin pools.
By 1972, Canadian ice hockey authorities were becoming more upset by the stringent amateur rules. Most of their best players either played in the NHL or played in high-level minor leagues, but were considered professionals. The Soviet Union players, however, skated year-round for a national team, and were allowed to compete as amateurs. After several years of fighting the authorities, Canada withdrew from international amateur ice hockey and did not compete at the 1972 and 1976 Winter Olympics. Sweden manage a 3-3 tie against the Soviets, but the USSR defeated their other rivals, the United States, 5-1, and Czechoslovakia, 5-2, and won another gold medal. The United States won the silver medal, their first Olympic ice hockey medal since their upset gold in 1960. The Soviet team was led by forwards Valery Kharlamov and Aleksandr Yakushev, considered by many hockey experts to be the equal of any players in the NHL. Their top player may have been their goaltender, Vladislav Tretyak, considered to be the best goalie in the world.