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September 14, 2014

1976 Canada Cup

Sittler's Heroics Capture
Inaugural Canada Cup

The first Canada Cup was held in 1976.  Unlike 1972, the Soviet Union's purposefully weakened representatives proved to be inferior as Canada would roll through the tournament with relative ease except for one exception - the defending world champions from Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia was backed by unorthodox goaltender Vladimir Dzurilla, a boyhood idol of Dominik Hasek. Dzurilla, a lanky refrigerator repairman by trade, stoned Team Canada much in the same way Vladislav Tretiak did in the 1972 Summit Series. In fact Canada's only loss in the Round Robin was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dzurilla.  Czechoslovakia was also led by leading scorer Milan Novy, who would be named as the the CSSR Most Valuable Player at the end of the tournament.

The tournament was Bobby Orr's first international tournament, and he did not disappoint, as he was named the Cup's most valuable player and tied Soviet forward Victor Zhluktov for the scoring lead. 6 of Zhluktov's 9 points came in one game - a Canada Cup record!

Canada was also led by strong goaltending throughout the tournament, something which was at times lacking in 1972. Rogie Vachon, who was a late addition to training camp thanks to a Ken Dryden injury, statistically was the best goaltender, going 6-1-0 with 2 shutouts and 1.39 GAA.

The Swedes were led by Toronto Maple Leaf standout Borje Salming. It was Salming - not Orr or Lafleur - who was the tournament's most popular player, at least in Toronto and Sweden

The lasting memory of the 1976 Canada Cup is of Darryl Sittler scoring the winning goal of the first overtime period, giving Team Canada the inaugural championship. Sittler broke in off the left wing and - following the advice of assistant coach Don Cherry - faked a booming slap shot causing Dzurilla to fall to his knees. Once the star goalie was down, Sittler skated by and popped the puck into the wide open night.

Results and Statistics
Round Robin
Sept 2 
  Canada 11 Finland 2 (Ottawa)
Sept 3   Sweden 5 USA 2 (Toronto)
           CSSR 5  USSR 3 (Montreal)
Sept 5   Sweden 3 USSR 3 (Montreal)
           CSSR 8 Finland 0 (Toronto)
           Canada 4 USA 2 (Montreal)
Sept 7   USSR 11 Finland 3 (Montreal)
           CSSR 5 USA 0 (Philadelphia)
           Canada 4 Sweden 0 (Toronto)
Sept 9   Finland 8 Sweden 6 (Winnipeg)
           USSR 5 USA 0 (Philadelphia)
           CSSR 1 Canada 0 (Montreal)
Sept 11  USA 6 Finland 3 (Montreal)
           Sweden 2 CSSR 1 (Quebec)
           Canada 3 USSR 1 (Toronto)

Sept 13 Canada 6 CSSR 0 (Toronto)Sept 15 Canada 5 CSSR 4 OT (Montreal)

Scoring Leaders
Goalie Leaders

Team MVPs
Canada   -   Rogie Vachon
CSSR   -   Milan Novy
Finland    -   Matti Hagman
Sweden   -   Borje Salming
USA    -   Robbie Ftorek
USSR   -   Alexander Maltsev

Tournament MVP
Bobby Orr - Canada

One of my favorite collectible items I own are these 1976 Canada Cup posters. Due to a lack of wall space I have yet to display them. They are still in the packaging tube - what an absolute shame. These are beautiful items:

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