September 28, 2010

34 Seconds To Eternity

"Henderson Has Scored For Canada!"

Almost any Canadian who is old enough can tell you exactly what he or she was doing on September 28, 1972, when Paul Henderson scored the 6-5 goal at 19:26 of the final period. For a moment, our world stood still, and then as the red light flickered behind Vladislav Tretiak, our hearts filled with joy, and relief.

"Here's a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and falls," Foster Hewitt breathlessly described. "Here's another shot. Right in front. They Score!! Henderson has scored for Canada!"

As Foster Hewitt's ghostly words described "the goal heard around the world" millions of Canadians danced and hugged in a scene that was reminiscent of the celebrations at the end of World War II. Never has a single sporting moment meant so much to so many Canadians a sense of unparalleled nationalism.

Paul Henderson's goal sealed a remarkable comeback victory over a Soviet squad that had pushed Canada to the brink of defeat. Of course, none of this was supposed to happen. Team Canada was composed of the NHL's greatest stars, and were expected to easily defeat their communist counterparts. The success of the Soviets stunned Canadians, who had always unquestioningly believed in their country's hockey supremacy.

Team Canada restored the faith of fans by fighting back to win the final 3 games of the series, all on game winning goals by Paul Henderson. Henderson was a talented but unspectacular left winger who was the unlikeliest of heroes. Unlikely heroes have come to define Canadian hockey.

"I found myself with the puck in front of the net," remembers Henderson. "Tretiak made one stop and the puck came right back to me. There was room under him, so I poked the puck through."

"When I saw it go in, I just went bonkers." Millions of thrilled and extremely relieved Canadians went bonkers as well.

The Russians gave us a lesson that myself, all our players and I guess
the whole country won't forget for a long time - Harry Sinden

"Who says nothing lasts forever? This series will." - Guy Lapointe

"I'd never on the Stanley Cup so I asked Cournoyer
right after the final if this was like winning the Cup. He said,
'This is ten times better.' I believed him." - Dennis Hull

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