The night the Soviets occupied Hibbing

I was absolutely floored by this item on the new Minnesota-based “Historically Inclined” blog by Jayson Hron. He describes in exquisite, luscious detail the frigid January 1959 night when the Soviet hockey team played an exhibition game in Hibbing, whipping a young American team in the Memorial Building arena. You must read this and you must follow Historically Inclined from this day forth.


This was the height of the Cold War, a time when many Americans wondered if Soviets were human or animal. Hibbing was by far the smallest and most remote town on the exhibition tour.

Traveling with them was an interpreter, Roman Kiselov, who was asked by reporters if he knew much about their northernmost stop and the predicted weather that awaited them. “Yes, I have heard of Hibbing,” he said. “It is like Africa compared with Moscow in winter.”

Reading this story, replete with glorious anecdotes, feels like watching a version of Rocky IV in which Ivan Drago really does break Rocky. Seriously, read this.

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