September is a time for watching pennant drives, going back to school, and squeezing out some final moments of summer. So why would you want to spend your time watching hockey? Because some of the greatest hockey games ever played have come in September. Here’s a look at the top ten games played in the month of September:
Sept 2, 1972 – USSR 7 Canada 3 – Canada’s faith in hockey supremacy is completely rocked after the upstarts from the Soviet Union shock NHL super stars and the crowd at the Montreal Forum. Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Kharlamov and Boris Mikhailov put on a show never to be forgotten. Top-level international hockey is born.
Sept 28, 1972 – Canada 6 USSR 5 – The most significant hockey game of all time needs no introduction. Phil Esposito leads Canada back to victory on Moscow ice, while Paul Henderson is immortalized. Canadians celebrate across the nation.
Sept 9, 1976 - Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0 – This hockey classic is considered to be one of the greatest games ever played in the Montreal Forum and in Canada Cup history. It was a nearly technically perfect game featuring brilliant goaltending by Rogie Vachon and Vladimir Dzurilla. The atmosphere was simply electric until Milan Novy quieted the crowd by scoring the round robin game’s only goal late in the third period.
Sept 15, 1976 – Canada 5 Czechoslovakia 4 (OT) – After the classic round robin match, Canada blew out Czechoslovakia 6-0 in game one of the 1976 finals. Game 2 returned to classic status with a dramatic end of the third period and exciting overtime. In overtime Darryl Sittler scored one of the most famous goals in Canadian hockey history to capture the inaugural Canada Cup.
Sept 13, 1981 – USSR 8 – Canada 1 – The Soviets greatest victory over Canada ranks as Canada’s most humiliating defeat. To make matters worse, it came in Canada’s Cathedral of Hockey – the Montreal Forum. Sergei Shepelev scored three times and Vladimir Krutov made Guy Lafleur look foolish on another en route to the Canada Cup championship. The Soviets were truly the most dominant force in hockey.
Sept 13, 1984 – Canada 3 – USSR 2 (OT) – Heralded as the greatest game ever played at the time, Canada dug down deep to upset the Soviets in the qualifying game for the finals. A gutsy effort saw Canada come from behind to force overtime. In overtime, Paul Coffey, of all players, came up with one of the biggest defensive plays in tournament history when he broke up a Soviet two–on–one, and, with the relentless help from tournament MVP John Tonelli, turned the play into a Mike Bossy winning goal.
Sept 13, 1987 – Canada 6 – USSR 5 (Double OT) – With Russia capturing game one of the best of three series, Canada needed a victory to force game 3. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were teamed together full time for the first time in the tournament, and the result was pure magic. Canada was clinging to 5-4 lead when Valeri Kamensky scored one of the most famous goals in tournament history to force overtime. In the second overtime Gretzky sets up Lemieux for the winner. It was Lemieux’s third goal of the night, and Gretzky’s fifth assist. Gretzky would call this game the greatest game he ever played.
Sept 15, 1987 – Canada 6 – USSR 5 – Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup will always be remembered for Wayne Gretzky’s and Mario Lemieux’s last minute heroics. The game itself was a notch below the entertainment standards of the game two days earlier, but the drama experienced by Hamilton fans was just as intense. The Soviets stunned Team Canada with a 3-0 lead by the eight-minute mark. But Canada, led by grinders like Brent Sutter, Rick Tocchet and Doug Gilmour clawed away at the Soviets’ lead with one of the gutsiest efforts in hockey history, and to set up the Gretzky-Lemieux dramatics.
Sept 7, 1996 – Canada 3 – Sweden 2 (Double OT) – Sweden put in an incredible effort against Canada in this finals qualifying game. Philadelphia fans witnessed Curtis Joseph and Tommy Salo engage in a classic double over time goaltending duel. Paul Coffey set up Theo Fleury to snap home the winning goal just seconds after Sweden had 4 tremendous opportunities to capture victory. Canada breathes a sigh of relief.
Sept 14, 1996 – USA 5 – Canada 2 – In the new political world Team USA emerged as the new hockey power and managed to dethrone Canada in game 3 of the thrilling finals of the first World Cup of Hockey. Montreal fans were disappointed to see a solid Canadian effort fall short against the Americans. MVP Mike Richter put in one of the greatest performances in tournament history, repeatedly stoning a barrage of Canadian scoring opportunities.