The names might seem familiar, but the era was different and the game even more different from the 21st century we now live in. There was Legace and Tambellini, Martin, Jones, Smith, and Kromm, but their first names are from a time long removed: Mike Legace, Addy Tambellini, Seth Martin, Hal Jones, Harry Smith, and Bobby Kromm (who was also the coach) all played for Canada’s 1961 entry at the World Championships, the Trail Smoke Eaters.
At the time, this tournament was not seen as the end of an era or the final win or a turning point in hockey history, but in retrospect it was all three. During these years, Canada and the Soviets were the two favourites to win the tournament, and the final game between the two often provided the difference between gold and silver. This year was no exception.
During the eight-team, seven-game round robin, the two top nations were nearly invincible, but when the Czechs beat the Soviets 6-4 and tied Canada 1-1, they made it a three-team race for gold. Canada finished first and claimed the gold thanks to a 5-1 romp over the Soviets, and although the Smoke Eaters and Czechs were tied with 6-1-0 records, Canada finished first because of a superior goal differential.
Indeed, the final game was dominated by the Canadians. Smith gave the team an early 1-0 lead, and then Jackie McLeod and Jones made it 3-0 after two periods. Yet as the players poured off the bench after the final horn, how could they have known the importance of this moment? The next year, Canada abandoned club representation in international hockey and adopted Father David Bauer’s proposal of a National Team.
The Soviets went on to win every tournament for nearly a decade, and then Canada withdrew from competition. The next time Canada won gold was in 1994, some 33 years after the Smoke Eaters returned home to British Columbia to a hero’s welcome. Players from that ’94 team are more familiar to the modern reader: Kariya, Sakic, Shanahan, Arnott, Ranford, Sydor, Ricci. By 1994, there was checking allowed in the offensive zone; overtime and shootouts decided tie games; and, the team was composed almost entirely by players from the NHL—all unthinkable changes in 1961. The Trail Smoke Eaters truly were the last amateur champions, replaced over time, to be sure, but never forgotten.
00:25 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Sly
03:10 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Legace
08:20 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Smith (McLeod)
08:55 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Sologubov
12:10 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Starshinov
18:30 – 🇷🇺 PEN – team
27:45 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Ragulin
30:05 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Rusnell, major
30:05 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Starshinov, major
30:35 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – McLeod (Jones)
32:40 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Jones (Fletcher)
35:23 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Smith
40:33 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – McLeod (Jones)
51:50 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – B. Maiorov (Starshinov)
58:00 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Lenardon
W: 🇨🇦 Martin (17-18)
L: 🇷🇺 Chinov (21-26)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 8+7+11 = 26
🇷🇺 9+6+3 = 18
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Seth Martin. Defence: George Ferguson, Don Fletcher, Darryl Sly, Harry Smith. Forwards: Cal Hockley, Harold Jones, Mike Legace, Norm Lenardon, Hugh McIntyre, Jack McLeod, Walt Peacosh, David Rusnell, Adolphe Tambellini.
🇷🇺 Goaltenders: Vladimir Chinov. Defence: Alexander Ragulin, Genrikh Sidorenkov, Nikolai Sologubov, Ivan Tregubov. Forwards: Veniamin Alexandrov, Alexander Almetov, Konstantin Loktev, Boris Maiorov, Yevgeni Maiorov, Nikolai Snetkov, Vyacheslav Starshinov, Viktor Yakushev, Vladimir Yurzinov.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||SOVIET UNION 🇷🇺|
(since 26 Feb 1961)
||27 Feb 1960|
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. URS)
🇷🇺 URS 7-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 07 Mar 1954 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. URS)
🇨🇦 CAN 3-1 URS 🇷🇺 – 11 Mar 1959 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 12-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 11 Mar 1961 – WC – Lausanne 🇨🇭
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 GDR 🇩🇪 – 21 Dec 1961 – EX – Weißwasser 🇩🇪