The withdrawal of Canada from international hockey in 1970 was the result of an increasingly bitter feud between that country and other top European countries, notably the Soviet Union. Canada had long believed that Iron Curtain countries used professional players in World Championship and Olympic competition because their players did nothing but play hockey eleven months of the year.
The withdrawal, though, did have one benefit—it produced the Summit Series in September 1972, an eight-game showdown between Canada’s professionals from the NHL and the best from the Soviet Union (essentially their World Championship / Olympic team).
Leading up to the series, the consensus in Canada was simple: Canada would win all eight games or, on an off night, CCCP would sneak in one win. Scouts and general managers argued that once Canada’s pros were allowed to play, there was no way the Soviets could match Canada for skill, speed, toughness, and ability to win.
The first game of the series, at the Forum in Montréal on 02 September 2 1972, goes down as one of the greatest moments in hockey’s history. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was on the red carpet at centre ice for the opening ceremonies, and once the puck was dropped the apparent slaughter began. Phil Esposito scored 30 seconds after the opening faceoff, and as he laughed on his way to centre ice for the faceoff, fans felt the romp was only just beginning. Six minutes later, Paul Henderson upped the score to 2-0, and fans cheered good-naturedly for their country.
Then something happened, and things went really, really wrong. For Canada. The Soviets started to skate their jitters away. They grew in confidence and started to attack the way they knew they could. They circled with the puck in their own end, and they waited for a perfect scoring chance before shooting. Most important, they used their incredible fitness to outhustle and outlast Canada, a team which had been training for less than a month. Yevgeni Zimin scored midway through the first period and Vladimir Petrov scored short-handed before the end of the period to make it a 2-2 game. That was the last time Canada was close in this game.
The Soviets scored the only two goals of the second, and although Canada got one back early in the third, CCCP ran up the score with three more goals on an overwhelmed goalie, Ken Dryden, who perhaps had never given up seven goals in an NHL game with his dominant Montréal Canadiens. The fans at the Forum were in a state of shock, and at the end of the game the players stood at the blueline hunched over, huffing and puffing from exhaustion. There would be no eight-game sweep, no domination, no laughing series.
In one night, the Soviets proved they could play with Canada’s best. They introduced to their opponents a new style of play, and played with a level of fitness Canada could not match. The rest of the series was evenly played, and although Canada won thanks to Paul Henderson’s heroics, the real winner, as goalie Vladislav Tretyak often said, was hockey itself. This game was, for all intents and purposes, the start of professional international hockey.
00:30 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – P. Esposito (F. Mahovlich, Bergman)
01:03 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Henderson, tripping
06:32 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Henderson (Clarke)
07:04 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Yakushev, tripping
11:40 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Zimin (Yakushev, Shadrin)
15:11 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Mikhailov, tripping
17:19 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Ragulin, tripping
17:28 – 🇷🇺 SH GOAL – Petrov (Mikhailov)
22:40 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Kharlamov (Maltsev)
25:16 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Clarke, slashing
30:38 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Kharlamov (Maltsev)
32:53 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lapointe, slashing
48:22 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Clarke (Ellis, Henderson)
53:32 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Mikhailov (Blinov)
54:29 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Zimin
54:45 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Kharlamov, high sticking
58:37 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Yakushev (Shadrin)
59:41 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lapointe, cross checking
W: 🇷🇺 Tretyak (29-32)
L: 🇨🇦 Dryden (23-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇷🇺 10+10+10 = 30
🇨🇦 10+10+12 = 32
🇷🇺 Goaltenders: Vladislav Tretyak, Viktor Zinger. Defence: Alexander Gusev, Viktor Kuzkin, Vladimir Lutchenko, Yuri Lyapkin, Yevgeni Paladiev, Alexander Ragulin, Gennadi Tsygankov. Forwards: Yuri Blinov, Valeri Kharlamov, Alexander Maltsev, Boris Mikhailov (C), Yevgeni Mishakov, Vladimir Petrov, Vladimir Shadrin, Vladimir Vikulov, Alexander Yakushev, Yevgeni Zimin.
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito. Defence: Don Awrey, Gary Bergman, Guy Lapointe, Brad Park, Rod Seiling. Forwards: Red Berenson, Bobby Clarke, Yvan Cournoyer, Ron Ellis, Phil Esposito (A), Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield, Paul Henderson, Frank Mahovlich (A), Peter Mahovlich, Jean Ratelle (A), Mickey Redmond.
|🇷🇺 SOVIET UNION||vs.||CANADA (C) 🇨🇦|
(previous 28 Mar 1969)
(since 04 Jan 1970)
(+ 2 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (URS vs. CAN)
🇷🇺 URS 7-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 07 Mar 1954 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (URS vs. CAN)
🇷🇺 URS 5-1 CAN 🇨🇦 – 03 Jan 1968 – CT – Winnipeg 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 2-1 TCH 🇨🇿 – 04 Jan 1970 – EX – Ottawa 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 URS 🇷🇺 – 04 Sep 1972 – SS – Toronto 🇨🇦
Article Credit: IIHF 100 Top Stories Of The Century
Photo Credit: Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration – IIHF – HHOF – IOC