Host City: Calgary, Canada
Venue(s): Father David Bauer Olympic Arena, Calgary; Olympic Saddledome, Calgary; Stampede Corral, Calgary
Date Started: February 13, 1988
Date Finished: February 28, 1988
Format: Round-robin pools, followed by round-robin medal round.
The Soviet Union was still considered the world’s best team, including the NHL, but the level of ice hockey internationally was rising to their challenge. Although they won the European Championships in 1985, 1986, and 1987, they had won only one World Championship since the Sarajevo Winter Olympics – that in 1986. Sweden was World Champion in 1987 and Czechoslovakia in 1985. Further, Finland now also boasted a competitive team. Canada and the United States were actually now second-rate internationally, hampered by being unable to use their best skaters, all in the NHL. But in October 1986, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) opened up the game, allowing all professionals to compete in the Olympics. This was similar to many other Olympic sports, which under IOC President [Juan Antonio Samaranch], were opened to professionals in the 1980s. Unfortunately for the United States and Canada, no NHL team allowed their players to leave their rosters for the 2 weeks of the Olympic tournament in February. Thus the path was clear for another Soviet gold medal and they did not disappoint, clinching the gold medal prior to their final game against Finland. Finland won that game, which was not meaningless to them, as it clinched them the silver medal.