At the end of 1946, the All-Union committee for physical culture and sport took the decision to hold a USSR ice hockey championship. During the last few days of 1946, the country's oldest ice hockey clubs were created - CSKA Moscow, Dynamo, Spartak and SKA. Our team were originally called "The home of S. M. Kirov officers", and Alexander Semyonov was the head coach.
The Leningrad's Officers team played their first official match against Vasily Stalin's team VVS MVO. Anatoly Tarasov was then the coach, a man who would go on to become one of the Soviet Union's greatest ever coaches. Leningrad eventually lost that game 3:7, with Dmitriev and Khabarov scoring a couple of goals. The next match against CDKA finished 1:1, while a technical defeat was handed to the team for not playing against Sverdlovskiy. Leningrad failed to qualify for the decisive stage of that tournament.
The Leningrad team missed the 1947/1948 season, and as a result, the club had to begin from the lower B league in the following year. In December 1950, the A league's participant list was increased significantly, and the "Leningrad Officers", the team's name at that time, returned to the elite division. Until 1991, the club continued playing at the highest level. Leningrad Officers made the final group at the second time of asking, but could only finish in sixth place.
In the 1953/1954 season, Anatoly Viktorov's men finished one place behind the podium in fourth. Only one more win was needed to overtake Krylya Sovetov. Nevertheless, the top scorer became the Belyay Bekyashev, Leningrad Officers' main forward. He scored 34 out of the club's 83 goals, and he scored a combined 17 goals in two games against Dynamo Sverdlovsk.
The 1955/1956 championship began brilliantly for the District Officers Club, and the team won nine out of the opening ten fixtures. However, some poor performances towards the end of the year prevented the players from taking a medal, and the club ended up finishing in fourth position. Once again, Bekyashev became the leading goalscorer with 37 markers.
Success for the club continued afterwards, and S. Litovko, A. Zhogol, E. Volkov, A. Nikiforov, V. Elesin, V. Pogrebnyak, B. Bekyashev and K. Fedorov were all called up to the USSR national team. They all took part in the 1956 World Winter Youth Student Games, and after winning the tournament, the players were all awarded with the USSR Master of Sports title.
Before the start of the 1957/1958, the team was renamed SKVO (Sporting Club of the Military District). The players managed to win five out of five games, and took 1st place in the preliminary group. However, unfortunately the club could only come seventh out of eight in the crucial phase. Next year, SKVO took sixth place, and this was the best result for a non Moscow club.
In 1959, the club was finally handed its present name which has brought it plenty of success - SKA.
In December 1953, Nikolai Puchkov, one of the best goalkeepers of the 1950's, became SKA's head coach. This was one of the most important events in Leningrad hockey's history. Puchkov managed the team for almost 20 years (with some breaks), and led the team to great success. Puchkov had his own specific tactical manner - a strict defensive game with players who matched his mentality/
The same year SKA from Kalinin was dissolved, and five top players came to Leningrad - forwards Valentin Panyukhin, Yuri Glazov and Vasily Adarchev and two defencemen - Pavel Kozlov and Konstantin Menshikov.
Puchkov's debut success with SKA came in the 1966/1967 campaign. A solid defensive game helped them to become one of the leading teams, but in the end, the team could only come fourth. Valentin Panyukhin, who netted 31 goals, was the club's top scorer.
SKA carried on in a positive vein from that season, and next year, the club qualified for the USSR Cup final for the first time. The players defeated Ermak from Angarsk, Voskhod from Chelyabinsk, Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow with an overall score 32:7. Unfortunately, in the final, CSKA won 7:3.
Our players' success was marked by the USSR national team's coaches. Four SKA players were called up to the junior national team for the European Championship in 1968 - S. Solodukhin, A. Novozhilov, E. Fedoseev and V. Solodukhin. A year after that, V. Shepovalov, O. Churashov, I. Grigoryev, S. Solodukhin and P. Andreev were playing for the main national team at the Izvestiya Prize tournament.
At the end of 1970, SKA shone on the international stage, and won the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. The tournament is the oldest in the world, and it has been running since 1923. In that 1970 competition, Leningrad defeated Duka, MoDo, Dusseldorf and the hosts Davos.
In the 1970/1971, the club achieved its first major success in the Soviet Union. Nikolai Puchkov's style of play led the team to an historic bronze medal in the USSR championship, and in the deciding match, SKA sent down Spartak Moscow 4:3 at a packed out Yubileyny Arena. Yury Glazov was the top scorer with 30 points (26+4).
SKA also made a surprise in the USSR Cup, and after beating CSKA in the semi-final 7:5, the team lost to Spartak 1:5 in the final. In December of that year, SKA took their second Spengler Cup after seeing off Slovan, the Japanese national team, MoDo and La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The peak of SKA's success during this period saw three of the club's players compete at the World Championship. In 1972, Nikolai Puchkov was given a coaching job in the USSR national team, and goalkeeper Vladimir Shepovalov and forward Vyacheslav Solodukhin joined him in becoming Leningrad's first representatives at the World Championship. At the tournament, the USSR took silver.
After taking bronze in 1971, SKA couldn't stay among the top clubs in the USSR, and returned to being a middle of the table side. During the final years of the 1970's, SKA managed to win a third Spengler Cup. With the Solodukhin brothers still at the forefront, and Alexei Kasatonov and Nikolai Drozdetsky just starting out their careers, SKA got the better of Dukla, AIK, Cologne and the Swiss national team.
SKA were still far away from the country's top clubs at the beginning of the 1980's, however more and more talented players were emerging from Leningrad. Goaltender Evgeny Belosheykin, defenseman Alexei Gusarov and Alexei Kasatonov and forward Nikolai Drozdetsky all starred for CSKA Moscow and the USSR national team. Drozdetsky, from the Leningrad suburb of Kolpino, had to choose between ice hockey and football, and he became one of the USSR's leading players. At the tender age of 18, he debuted for SKA, and at 22, he was representing CSKA. His best performances came at the 1984 Olympic Games, where the USSR national team won gold largely down to Drozdetsky's goals. At the end of that season, Drozdetsky was named the country's top ice hockey players.
Coach Valery Shilov, who took over from Boris Mikhaylov in 1984, led the club to an historic second USSR championship bronze medal. Under Shilov, SKA improved greatly in attack, and during the season, only CSKA and Dynamo Moscow scored more goals. Nikolai Drozdetsky returned to SKA just at the right time, and he scored thirteen goals in as many games during January 1987.
In the early 1990's, SKA even slipped down to the first division, however needed just one campaign to return to the elite. Boris Mikhaylov wrote the latest chapter in the club's story - in 1993, he worked as both SKA and the Russian national team's coach, and with him, the country won the World Championship in Germany. Alongside Mikhaylov, players Sergei Pushkov, Sergei Shendelev and Dmitry Frolov also became world champions with that squad.
Changes concerning the Russian championship involved not only the competition's name, but also its format - playoffs were introduced. In the second season of the MHL, SKA made it all the way to the semi-finals. Our players knocked out Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa, however future champion Lada Togliatti halted SKA's journey. Interestingly, both 1987 bronze medal winners such as Dmitry Kukushkin, Yury Gaylik and Nikolai Maslov were in that team as well as future stars Maxim Sushinsky and Maxim Sokolov.
In April of 2007, American Barry Smith became SKA's first ever foreign head coach. During his career, he had worked as an assistant coach with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He became a Stanley Cup winner five times. With SKA, he took the team into the playoffs on a number of occasions, but couldn't go further than the quarter-finals.
Russia became world champions for the first time in fifteen years in 2008. SKA's Maxim Sushinsky took five points (4+1) from nine appearances, and fellow Saint Petersburg teammate Konstantin Gorovikov tallied up four points (2+2) from nine games.
The country retained its world title the following year, again beating Canada in the final. Konstantin Gorovikov became the first two time SKA world champion, and during the tournament, he took five points (1+4) while competing in all of Russia's fixtures.
Having not won the Spengler Cup for 35 years, SKA came roaring back with a victory in 2010. Vaclav Sykora's troops got the better of Sparta and Servette, with the latter being beaten in the semi-final for a second time, and SKA sealed the deal with a thrilling 4:3 final victory over Canada. In the final, Maxim Sushinsky netted two, while Alexei Yashin and Maxim Afinogenov also hit the target.
SKA managed to repeat their best previous domestic result - the playoffs semi-final. Milos Riha, the then head coach, comfortably saw off CSKA and Atlant in the first two rounds, but came up short against Dynamo Moscow. Nevertheless, defenseman Dmitry Kalinin went on to win the World Championship in Finland a month later.
In the 2012/2013 campaign, the NHL lockout occurred, and stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Sergei Bobrovsky arrived to play in Saint Petersburg. During that campaign, Jukka Jalonen replaced Riha at the helm, and he steered the club to a clear victory in the KHL regular season, in turn winning the Continental Cup. In the playoffs, again SKA would lose to Dynamo in the conference finals, but it was good enough for Russian bronze.
At the 2014 World Championship, Russia won all of their ten matches to rule the world. SKA forward Viktor Tikhonov became the competition's top scorer with 16 points, and he was joined in the team of the tournament by new club-mate Anton Belov.
It was decided that for the 2014/2015 season, the Russian championship medalists would be determined from the KHL regular season. SKA were one of the leaders all the way through the year, however CSKA Moscow ended up taking the gold. SKA finished in second place, and earned a silver medal for the first time in the club's history.
The 19th of April will go down in history as the day when SKA won their first Gagarin Cup! Our team beat Ak Bars Kazan 6:1 in the decider, taking the series 4:1. In the previous rounds, SKA were stronger than Torpedo, Dynamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow. In that series with CSKA, SKA became the first KHL club ever to recover from an 0:3 deficit.