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Sports Then and Now



The Tragic Story of Hockey in Czechoslovakia 3

Posted on February 14, 2014 by Martin Banks

Czechoslovakia was a hockey power during the 1940s and 1950s, winning gold medals in the World Championships in 1947 and 1949. The country’s national teams also won a silver medal in the 1948 Olympics, losing to Team Canada on goal differential. Unfortunately, two tragic events ended the careers of most of the players responsible for this success, launching Czechoslovakian hockey into a dark period where they did not win a major tournament for over 20 years.

czechoslovak-national-hockey-team-probably-1949

The Plane Crash

In 1948, the Czechoslovakian team was on top of the world, having taken over as perhaps the most dominant hockey nation in the world. In preparation for the upcoming 1949 World Hockey Championships, the team scheduled a couple of exhibition games against Great Britain. The team would fly from Paris, where they had been staying, to London for these games.

Eight of the players flew out the day before the game and spent the night in a hotel. These players arrived without incident and made their way to Wembley Stadium the next day for the game. The remaining six players stayed in Paris for an extra night and left the morning of the game. These players, Miroslav Pokorny, Zdenek Svarc, Zdenek Jarkovsky, Karel Stibor, Vilibard Stovik and Ladislav Trojak, were never heard from again, as their plane vanished over the English Channel.

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