Game eight of the Summit Series was maybe the most important hockey game ever played. It was the climax of the greatest series ever played, Canada versus the Soviet Union. It was a series that pitted the professionals of Canada against the “amateurs” of the Soviet Union. It matched Canadian-style hockey with Soviet-style.
Most important, it was a battle between lifestyles, values and two vastly different political systems.
The series was supposed to produce a landslide victory for Canada, but after a dominant 7-3 win for the Soviets in game one, the teams settled in to produce eight extraordinary games that changed the hockey world forever.
Canada fought back to win game two in Toronto by a 4-1 count, and the teams played to a 4-4 tie two nights later in Winnipeg. The final game on Canadian soil, in Vancouver, ended in embarrassment for Canada. Not only did the team lose, 5-3, the players were booed throughout the game by fans who expected a victory.
After a long trip to Europe and two exhibition games in Sweden, Canada resumed the series in Moscow at the Luzhniki Arena, promptly losing game five, 5-4. After the series, Phil Esposito said the team simply knew after this game that Canada would not lose again. He was right, but just barely.
Paul Henderson scored the game-winning goal in game six, a 3-2 win, and in game seven he did it again in the third period, splitting the defence and beating Tretyak with a shot while falling to give Canada a critical 4-3 win. That set the stage for game eight on 28 September 1972.
Alexander Yakushev opened the scoring on the power play at 3:34, but Esposito replied for Canada with the extra man just three minutes later. The teams exchanged goals later in the period to produce a 2-2 tie after 20 minutes.
If Canada were to win this game, and the series, it would have to mount a miraculous comeback after the second period in which the Soviets outscored their opponents, 3-1. But with the team trailing 5-3 heading into the final period of the historic series, Canadian players still knew they could win.
Esposito, playing like a man possessed, scored early to make it 5-4, and then at 12:56, Yvan Cournoyer tied the game for Canada. Major controversy erupted, however, when the goal light didn’t go on, and the Canadians believed that somehow a conspiracy was playing out. After discussions with referees Rudolf Baťa and Josef Kompalla, however, the goal was put on the scoreboard. Game tied, 5-5.
The Soviets regained their composure, and Canada could not muster that final goal for victory. Soviet officials declared during the late moments of the third period that if the game and series ended in a tie, the Soviets would be declared winners because they had scored more goals (32 to 30), a common method for breaking ties in the standings in international hockey.
Meanwhile, behind the Canadian bench, coach Harry Sinden was contemplating whether to pull goalie Ken Dryden for the extra attacker to break the 5-5 game. In the end, he decided not to. With less than a minute to play, Paul Henderson was sitting on the players’ bench when he shouted to Pete Mahovlich to come off the ice. He did, and Henderson skated out to join the action. He teamed with Esposito and Cournoyer deep in the Soviet end to create a turnover, and Esposito swiped wildly at the puck.
It went to the front of the net where Henderson was stationed. Henderson took one shot which Tretyak saved, and the rebound came right back to him. He smacked it in on the second chance, and raised his arms in victory. Cournoyer hugged him, and the rest of the team poured off the bench to join in.
Foster Hewitt’s famous call of “Henderson has scored for Canada!” was the simplest summary of the greatest Canadian goal ever scored. It came at 19:26 of the final period of play in the Summit Series. It gave Canada a win that came to define climactic success. Never again was hockey so important. Never again would a series have such far-reaching implications. Never again would such a hero emerge from a hockey series.
02:25 – 🇨🇦 PEN – White, holding
03:01 – 🇨🇦 PEN – P. Mahovlich, holding
03:34 – 🇷🇺 PP2 GOAL – Yakushev (Lyapkin, Maltsev)
03:44 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Petrov, hooking
04:10 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Parisé, interference + game misconduct
06:28 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Tsygankov, inteference
06:45 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – P. Esposito (Park)
09:27 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Ellis, interference
09:46 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Petrov, interference
12:51 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Cournoyer, interference
13:10 – 🇷🇺 PP GOAL – Lutchenko (Kharlamov)
16:59 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Park (Ratelle, Hull)
20:21 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Shadrin
30:32 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – White (Gilbert, Ratelle)
31:43 – 🇷🇺 GOAL – Yakushev
34:58 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Stapleton, cross checking
36:44 – 🇷🇺 PP GOAL – Vasiliev (Shadrin)
38:06 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Kuzkin, elbowing
42:27 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – P. Esposito (P. Mahovlich)
43:31 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Gilbert, fighting major
43:31 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Mishakov, fighting major
44:27 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Vasiliev, tripping
52:56 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Cournoyer (P. Esposito, Park)
55:24 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Hull, high sticking
55:24 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Petrov, elbowing
59:26 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Henderson (P. Esposito)
W: 🇨🇦 Dryden (22-27)
L: 🇷🇺 Tretyak (30-36)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 14+8+14 = 36
🇷🇺 12+10+5 = 27
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito. Defence: Gary Bergman, Guy Lapointe, Brad Park, Serge Savard, Pat Stapleton, Bill White. Forwards: Bobby Clarke, Yvan Cournoyer, Ron Ellis, Phil Esposito (A), Rod Gilbert, Paul Henderson, Dennis Hull, Frank Mahovlich (A), Peter Mahovlich, J.P. Parisé, Jean Ratelle (A).
🇷🇺 Goaltenders: Alexander Sidelnikov, Vladislav Tretyak. Defence: Alexander Gusev, Viktor Kuzkin, Vladimir Lutchenko, Yuri Lyapkin, Gennadi Tsygankov, Valeri Vasiliev. Forwards: Vyacheslav Anisin, Yuri Blinov, Valeri Kharlamov, Alexander Maltsev, Boris Mikhailov (C), Yevgeni Mishakov, Vladimir Petrov, Vladimir Shadrin, Vladimir Vikulov, Alexander Volchkov, Alexander Yakushev.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||SOVIET UNION 🇷🇺|
(since 24 Sep 1972)
||24 Sep 1972|
(+ 4 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. URS)
🇷🇺 URS 7-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 07 Mar 1954 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. URS)
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 URS 🇷🇺 – 26 Sep 1972 – SS – Moscow 🇷🇺
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 URS 🇷🇺 – 26 Sep 1972 – SS – Moscow 🇷🇺
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 3-3 TCH 🇨🇿 – 30 Sep 1972 – EX – Prague 🇨🇿
Article Credit: IIHF 100 Top Stories Of The Century
Photo Credit: Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration – IIHF – HHOF – IOC