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1974 Midget Tournament Saw Soviet Player Banned For Life For Kicking Two Future NHLers

In 1974 the Canadian midget hockey team Verdun Maple Leafs travelled to Moscow, Leningrad and Riga to play several games against top Soviet hockey players of the same age.

It seems amazing enough that Canadian kids were sent over to Russia during the Cold War, but what reportedly happened over there is even more amazing.

The Montreal Star and French newspapers La Presse and Montreal-Matin all reported a nasty kicking incident that got a Soviet youth banned from hockey for life, and his coaches suspended for one season.

Apparently the game featured a bench clearing brawl described as "... one of the most serious brawls in the history of international hockey competition." I know it was the 1970s, but we are still talking about kids here. Just amazing.

For the brawl coaches Anatoli Firsov - a legend of Soviet hockey - and Anatoli Galamosov were suspended for one year.

The most serious of incidents saw a player named Victor Ovaskin exit the penalty box to join in the fights. Video tape clearly caught Ovaskin kicking Canadian player John Bethel in the face with his skate, resulting in a gash over his eye. Another player - future NHL tough guy Jimmy Mann - suffered a large welt on his stomach from an alleged kick from Ovaskin, but officials could not prove that kick.

Soviet official Col. Dimitri Goulevich said:  "There's no excuse for players to kick with skates. As far as we are concerned the coaches are responsible for the control of every player and our coaches lost control."

Canadian coach Brian McKeown said both teams share the responsibility. "We must share the responsibility. Two wrongs don't make a right. Our player was first off the bench and if their coaches lost control, so did ours."

I do not know whatever happened to Victor Ovaskin. John Bethel went on to play at Boston University and had a brief pro career including 17 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.


Hallwings said…
Would you say the brawl mentioned here was as bad or worse than the one that happened in Piestany over a decade later?
Bim said…
and we thought the world forgot....

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