September 22, 2012

"I Was At Game 5" - An Interview With Andrei Petrov

I had the great fortune to meet Andrei Petrov. Andrei is a Russian who now lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was the first person I have met that actually attended a Summit Series game in person.

"I personally attended the first Moscow game (game 5), I remember the fantastic atmosphere, the falling of Phil Esposito during the opening ceremony, the tremendous excitement when trailing 1:4 we won 5:4. Of course, I watched all other games on black and white TV - I still remember huge disappointment with Paul Henderson's goal. So, all this will be forever."

Andrei was 10 years old when he attended the game. It was his first hockey game.

"(There were too many) impressions for the first-comer to see the hockey game, and what a game! It probably could be compared with a person that have never visited mountains before and being at the top of Everest."

So how does a kid get a hold of one of the hottest tickets in Russian sporting event history?

"At that time I was ten years old and this was my first ever visit to ice hockey game. I remember countless number of people begging for a spare ticket just near the doors of the subway train. I don’t know the “scalpers” price, but I bet it was astronomic. The regular price was about 4 – 5 rubles or something like that, as far as I remember.

"But this tells nothing, because it was not only impossible to get tickets for these games, it was impossible powered by ten. The tickets were absolutely not on sale, they were distributed among organizations, enterprises etc. And just imagine, how many requests came. The official seating capacity of Luzhniki Ice Arena was 12000. Minus VIPs sector, prominent people like cosmonauts that had a free passage to any sporting event, fans from Canada. Anyway, my father was lucky enough to win some kind of a “draw” for two tickets in his organization."

Andrei said that the noisy Canadian contingent of approximately 3000 fans did not leave a large impression.

"There were lots of Canadian fans over there. Yes of course, they supported Team Canada pretty well - but this happens all the time when you are visitor. What about our fans, I would like to mention that at that time there was no flag waving etc permitted."

"There could not be a lot of joy at 1:4. But as the game proceeded, this "emotionless" state vanished, and with every USSR goal scored the whole arena started to roar. And, of course, during that moments no Canadian fans could be heard."

One of the unforgettable moments of the game came during the pre-game ceremonies, when Phil Esposito slipped and fell right on his bottom. When he got up and charismatically bowed to the amused fans, he became an instant fan favorite in Russia.

"I can’t recall exactly the reaction of the public when Espo fell – it was something like “Ah” and laughter. By the way, among us kids Espo was the most venerated player – when we played “yard hockey”, we tried to pretend to be Phil Esposito."

As for specifics of the game, it was a goal that he did not see that sticks out in his memory the most.

"I remember the following. We sat in the most upper corner of the arena, and several men sitting in front of me periodically stood up and blocked the view. And once we scored a goal - of course everybody jumped up, but these men continued to stand greeting each other for a longer time. And suddenly I hear a roaring again - in several seconds we scored another goal! But due to these guys I missed it!

But Andrei fully experienced the atmosphere.

"Of course after the fifth goal the ice arena got crazy. It was overwhelming. And you know that usually when our team is trailing, but is attacking fiercely, out fans support with chanting "Shaibu, Shaibu!" ("Puck, Puck"! - meaning Get a puck into net), but when we become ahead, the fans start to chant "Mo-lod-tsy!" (something like "Good guys", "Bravo!"). And especially when you convert 1:4 to 5:4, it goes deep from the heart."

Despite the magnitude of the game, Andrei admits the importance of the game escaped his grasp back then.

"Maybe it is strange that the impression from the game itself was weaker than from the game number 8 that I watched on TV. Maybe because it was first-time experience in watching the “real-live” game, maybe because we were seated at the far upper corner, and not everything was seen clearly enough."

No comments: