Kitchener Ontario's Don Awrey was a surprise selection to many, including Don himself. He called being named to the inaugural Team Canada as the highlight of the tournament for him.
"That was probably the greatest thrill for me. To be chosen to play for your country is a great honour. When I got the call, the poor guy who asked me if I wanted to play on the team didn't even get the question out of his mouth when I said ´sure, when do I report ? ´ That's how bad I wanted to play in the series. "
Awrey and Rod Seiling developed an early chemistry together in training camp. The duo's performance earned them an opening night roster spot - a great honor for a defensive specialist. That first game was one of the most damning in Canadian hockey history, however, as the Soviets unthinkably manhandled might Team Canada 7-3. The Soviets made even Canada's best players look like practice pylons, and Awrey was victimized directly on the first Soviet goal of the game. Evgeny Zimin got half a step on the three time Stanley Cup champion, and stopped the Canadian momentum gained early in the game.
"Rod and I had a terrific training camp," said the classic and classy blueliner. "But maybe things didn't work out in the first game. We were two defensive specialists playing together."
Awrey was yanked from the lineup after the terrible game one, and returned for only one other game - the equally dreadful game 4 in Vancouver. The game is of course remembered for the Vancouver fans booing their own Team Canada off the ice after losing 5-3.
Awrey accompanied the team to Russia, but did not play in any of the four Moscow games. Awrey released a lot of his frustrations against the unsuspecting Swedes in a 2 game exhibition series played in Sweden that was intended to give the NHL pros a short opportunity to get used to the larger international playing surface. There was quite an outcry from Swedish fans and journalists and even the Canadian embassy regarding Canada's physical play and mean disposition.
However that trip to Stockholm helped Canada's NHLers become a true team.
"We weren't prepared for the kind of team we had to face. Just because you put 35 guys on the ice, it doesn't make a team. A team is something that plays for a number of games, a number of months. The Russians had been preparing for this for I don't know how long," Awrey explained.
"Fortunately, we came together when we went to Sweden [during a break in the series], and then went to Moscow. If we had played 20 games together [before the series], it would have been an even better team.