Last Soviet goalie to win Olympic gold, first to play in NHL, dies at 58

Sergey Mylnikov
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Sergey Mylnikov, the goalie for the last Soviet Olympic hockey team and the first Russian goalie to play in the NHL, died at age 58, according to Russia’s hockey federation.

Mylnikov played every minute for the Soviets at the 1988 Calgary Games, reportedly in part due to Evgeny Belosheiken‘s knee injury.

He backstopped them to the Olympic title, despite giving up five goals to the U.S. in group play and losing the last game of the medal round to Finland (the Soviets had already clinched gold two days earlier).

It marked the USSR’s third Olympic defeat spanning seven Olympics from 1964 through 1988, ending a 15-game winning streak dating to the Miracle on Ice.

Mylnikov and Belosheiken, who was eight years younger, had traded starts in meaningful games the years prior, after the legendary Vladislav Tretiak retired following the 1984 Olympics.

Mylnikov was then drafted by the Quebec Nordiques before the 1989-90 season, playing in 10 games with a 1-7-2 record and a 4.96 goals-against average for a last-place team.

He reported to preseason camp overweight but refused a demotion to an American Hockey League affiliate, according to the Canadian Press.

“My record stands on its own,” Mylnikov said, according to the report. “I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”

The fall of the Soviet Union led to a Unified Team competing at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville and winning gold. Russia competed alone beginning in 1994 and hasn’t won an Olympic hockey title.

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