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Hockey Heroes: Wieslaw Jobczyk

April 8th, 1976.

That was the day of the greatest upset in the history of international hockey. Perhaps it was the greatest upset in the history of hockey.

Four years before a bunch of American college kids upset the mighty Soviet Union national team at the Olympics, the Russians experienced another major hiccup against Poland. The hiccup came in the form of a 6-4 loss against the hometown Poles, as the 1976 World Championships were being held in the Polish mining town of Katowice. The loss would cost the Russians the world championship.

Aside from the two aforementioned losses, the Soviets were practically unbeatable in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Just two months before Katowice the Russians had destroyed all the competition in the 1976 Olympic games, including disposing of Poland by a humiliating score of 16-1. The Russians were gold medalists in 12 of the previous 13 world championships, and later on would destroy NHL competition at the Challenge Cup and 1981 Canada Cup.

Poland, of course, has never been a hockey power, and they were always a whipping boy for the Soviets. In the previous seven contests, the Russians had won by scores of 9-3, 20-0, 8-3, 17-0, 13-2, 15-1 and 16-1. That's a combined score of 98-10!

But something funny happened on this day. The Russians clearly were guilty of overlooking their competition. They started back up goalie Alexander Sidelnikov instead of usual starter Vladislav Tretiak. Though Sidelnikov was not strong, the Russian team should have had enough offense to spot the Poles a few goals and still blow them away. But it was just not working for the Russians, for whatever reason.

Mieczyslaw Jaskierski opened the scoring at 10:21 of the first period, while Ryszard Nowinski tallied 4 minutes later. After 20 minutes, the Poles, wearing their red national team jerseys, had already shocked the hockey world. They had a 2-0 lead on the Soviets!

The Soviets came alive in the second period, but puck luck was not on their side. Boris Mikhailov scored to narrow the score to 2-1, but 2 quick goals by the Poles upped the score to 4-1, still early in the 2nd period. Previously unknown Wieslaw Jobczyk scored to make it 3-1, while Jaskierski scored his second of the game to make it 4-1.

Soviet coach Boris Kulagin was fuming by the point, and yanked goaltender Sidelnikov in favor of the great Tretiak. The Soviets quickly responded, as big left winger Alexander Yakushev tallied just outside of the 5 minute mark to make the score 4-2.

But this night would prove to be Wieslaw Jobczyk's 15 minutes of fame. At 6:40 of the second, Jobczyk scored his second goal of the game and what proved to be the game winning goal. Just to make sure, Jobczyk completed the hat trick in the third period, making Valeri Kharlamov's 2 third period goals obsolete. 10,000 Polish fans in attendance turned into a complete madhouse. They almost raised the roof off of the stadium when singing the national anthem in victory after the game.

While Wieslaw Jobczyk gets a lot of credit for his famous hat trick, Polish goaltender Andrzej Tkacz also deserves full marks. Tkacz made several remarkable saves to keep the Polish dream night going.

To show how unlikely the victory was, the Poles returned to their normal form the next day, losing 12-0 to Czechoslovakia. Despite the victory of the Soviets, the Poles could muster no more wins, and were relegated down to the B pool by tournament's end.

So whatever happened to Wieslaw Jobczyk. Well he continued to play hockey through the 1980s. According to HockeyDB.com, Jobczyk ended up playing 2nd division hockey in Germany, including stops in Duisburg and Ratingen. The 5'9" 190lb forward was quite the goal scorer. HockeyDB's incomplete statistics have Jobczyk scoring 236 goals, 439 points in 169 2nd division games!

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