September 27, 2013

Great Moments In Hockey History: Soviet Shocker At Game One Of 1972 Summit Series

It was supposed to be a cake walk for Canada. The Soviet amateurs would be crushed by Canada's top professionals. Oh, we'll show them just how good Canadian hockey really is. Sure, they could beat our amateur teams that were made up of mill workers and car salesmen, but this was going to be different.

Everything was going according to the script when Canada scored on the first scoring chance of the game just 30 seconds into the action. Phil Esposito, who seconds earlier enthusiastically won the ceremonial faceoff, potted a Frank Mahovlich rebound past a flopping Russian goalie named Vladislav Tretiak. 
By the 6:32 mark Canada upped the score to 2-0 when Paul Henderson wired a hard, but seemingly harmless shot to Tretiak's far side. Tretiak looked awkward as he feebly attempted to knock down the puck. 

The predicted rout was on. The party was on. 

"When I got on the ice," remembered Rod Gilbert in Scott Morrison's excellent book The Days Canada Stood Still, "it was already 2-0. Before I played my first shift it was 2-0, so I'm sitting on the bench saying, 'Let me on. Let me score my goals.' I figured it was going to be 15, 17-0, and I wanted to score a few goals." 

Gilbert's thoughts at that point were the common thoughts of almost every Canadian watching the game, and certainly of all the players playing in it. It was a feeling that Canadians not only shared during those opening minutes, but during the entire training camp and since the day the tournament was announced. For that matter, Canadians felt that confident about their hockey dominance ever since the Soviets arrived on the international hockey scene in the 1950s. 

Those thoughts were abolished forever before the night was over. 

 Full Story and Box Score @ 1972 Summit

Also See: 

No comments: