1972 Summit Series Game Recaps
By Joe Pelletier, Special to CNNSI.com
Game 1, Sept. 2, 1972
Montreal Forum, Montreal, Quebec. USSR 7, Canada 3
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.
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.
The Soviets settled their nerves after falling behind early. They began to play their game of wonderful passing and skating. The overconfident Canadians eased up, and, as the initial awestruck feeling eased away, the Soviet players took full advantage.
Evgeny Zimin, a miniature speed demon, took a pass from gigantic Alexander Yakushev and bulged the twine behind Ken Dryden at 11:40. Before the period was over the Soviets scored a back-breaking goal while killing a Canadian power play. The great Vladimir Petrov scored as he easily tapped a Boris Mikhailov rebound past a hapless Dryden.
The score was tied at 2. The Soviets went on to simply dominate the second half of the period. They mesmerized the unsuspecting Canucks with their precision playmaking, effortless skating, and intricate and inventive offense.
"I remember walking into the dressing room after the first period and talking to Yvon Cournoyer," Marcel Dionne said in The Days Canada Stood Still. "He just looked at me and said, 'You can't believe their strength and conditioning.'"
The Soviets continued to impress their opponents and the increasingly quiet Montreal Forum faithful in the second period. Specifically the electrifying Valeri Kharlamov impressed the most. Considered by many to be the greatest Soviet player of all time, Kharlamov scored twice in the middle frame. His explosive speed and scoring ability made him a household name in Canada after that fine period of play.
The rout was still on, but definitely not as predicted.
The Canadians had a brief moment of hope in the third period when Bobby Clarke, who was named Canada's best player in this historic game, scored to make it 4-3. The Canadians came out and played their best hockey in the opening 10 minutes of that third period, creating several scoring chances only to be foiled by the amazing Tretiak. The scouting reports were wrong about Tretiak -- not only could he stop the puck, but time would prove he was one of the all-time greats.
The Soviets were able to withstand the Canadian onslaught by playing a patient defensive game. They waited for good opportunities to counter attack against the tiring Canadians, and when they did arrive, they capitalized. Mikhailov and Zimin scored 57 seconds apart to put the game out of reach by the 14:29 mark. Yakushev added one final blow late in the period.
Everyone was surprised by how good the Soviets were -- including the Soviets themselves. They came to Canada largely believing all the hype about how Canada's professionals would easily defeat the "amateurs" from Russia
The Russians used their advantages to their fullest extent. They were a team in the truest sense of the word. They had been playing and practicing together for months, not weeks like the Canadian players, and it showed. They were also incredibly better conditioned -- they trained year round, while the Canadians enjoyed their summers of beer and golf and relied on training camp to get back into playing shape.
Game 2, Sept. 4, 1972
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario. Canada 4, USSR 1
Canada redeemed themselves nicely in Game 2, thanks largely to a couple of brother acts, and a radically different gameplan.
Canada's arrogant thoughts of easily crushing their communist counterparts had backfired, meaning they simply had to win this game to restore confidence in the Canadian people and themselves. In that sense, Game 2 was the most important game of the series for Canada.
And win they did. They held the upper hand on the Soviets most of the night, but had significant trouble beating the skinny 20-year-old goalie Vladislav Tretiak.
After a scoreless first period, Phil Esposito, who was quickly establishing himself as the undisputable leader of Team Canada, opened the scoring in the second period. Yvon Cournoyer used his blazing speed to make the Russian defense look slow on an early power-play marker in the third period, but the Big Yak, Alexander Yakushev, pulled the Soviets to within one just 4 minutes later on the feared Russian power-play unit.
Yakushev's goal was the only one that would get by Chicago Blackhawks goaltending great Tony Esposito. Phil's brother had replaced Ken Dryden in the Canadian nets for this game. It was a good move as Esposito played well and adapted better to the Soviet's criss-crossing offense.
On the same power play, Pete Mahovlich scored on what was perhaps the most remarkable individual effort of the series. With Canada killing a penalty, the lanky "Little M" picked up a Phil Esposito clearing attempt just inside the center line. Faking his patented slapshot, Mahovlich deked a Soviet defender and drove in alone on Tretiak. He faked a forehand shot, went to his backhand, and while falling on top of Tretiak managed to slip the puck into the net by using his impressive long reach. To this day Tretiak is puzzled as to how the puck made it past him, as he knows he played the shot perfectly.
Peter's amazing solo rush awed the Soviets. Big brother Frank Mahovlich teamed up with Czechoslovakian-born Stan Mikita a little more than two minutes later to cement the win. Mikita stole the puck behind the goal and centered to the unchecked Big M, who one-timed a shot off of the post and behind Tretiak.
Led by Phil Esposito's inspiration and Tony Esposito's stellar goaltending, and Pete and Frank Mahovlich's heroic goal scoring, all was well in Canada again.
The Canadians were successful because they played the simplest of game plans. They dressed a more physical lineup and focussed on a fierce forechecking game as well as a tight defensive game. The players were willing to listen to their coaching staffs after being stunned and humiliated in game one. The arrogant NHLers didn't believe that what happened could happen in Game 1, and after it did they were all very attentive to their coaches advice. By doing so, they restored their pride.
"They were more respectful of us in the second game," said Soviet captain Boris Mikhailov. "They understood we could play good hockey. They played very well, a very physical game. We had not seen such a style of game."
Game 3, Sept. 6, 1972
Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada 4, USSR 4
One of Canada's top players was deliberately left off the Team Canada roster for the 1972 Summit Series. Bobby Hull had jumped to the World Hockey Association, and the NHL decided there was no way he would be included on Team Canada.
Hull would be forced to watch in the stands in his new hometown of Winnipeg on September 6. He, like the rest of Canada, wondered which Team Canada would show up: The one that bombed in Montreal, or dominated in Toronto?
The answer was both. Canada probably should have won the game, but they blew two two-goal leads during this game. It became obvious that this team was not yet in good enough condition or playing as a cohesive unit.
Despite outshooting the Russians 15-9 in the first period, Team Canada only led by a 2-1 margin. Canada played very well in the first period, led by Jean-Paul Parise's goal just 1:54 into the game. Vladimir Petrov answered back for the Soviets, but Jean Ratelle tapped in a wonderful pass from Yvon Cournoyer to give Canada the lead after one.
Canada was playing a very physical game, however Wayne Cashman was being watched closely. He made his presence felt in Game 2 so much that he was all the Russians would talk about after the game. They didn't appreciate the physical liberties he took on them, nor did they appreciate the referees failure to enforce the rules. In this game, he wasn't being allowed to use his usual tricks.
A wild second period saw the Soviet's secret weapon unveiled. In what amounted to the Russian version of the "Kid Line," the Russians dressed Yuri Lebedev, Alex Bodunov and Viacheslav Anisin for the first time. The trio represented the future of Soviet hockey, and they contributed hugely to the tie in Winnipeg.
Canada opened the second period scoring thanks to Phil Esposito. Valeri Kharlamov answered with a short handed goal only to have Paul Henderson restore the impressive 2 goal lead.
Cue the Kid Line.
At 14:59 of the second period, Yuri Lebedev deflected a Valeri Vasiliev point shot. Then at 18:28, the talented Alexander Bodunov took a nice centering pass from Viacheslav Anisin to tie the game at 4.
"They put out that young line we hadn't seen before and they dominated us," said coach Harry Sinden.
The third period featured no scoring and relatively few shots. But the period wasn't nearly as close in terms of territorial play. The Canadians tired noticeably in the third period and were lucky that the Soviets didn't display more of a killer instinct.
Game 4, Sept. 8, 1972
Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia. USSR 5, Canada 3
After a shocking loss in Montreal and a less than impressive effort in Winnipeg, it was becoming obvious that Canadian fans were becoming increasingly frustrated with the results. That would be hammered home by the end of the night. Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum played host to Game 4, but it would not be a friendly venue for Team Canada.
Canada, playing without defensive standouts Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard due to injury, got into penalty trouble early. Bill Goldsworthy, inserted into the lineup because of his energy and physical play, was too exuberant and was penalized twice in the opening six minutes. The Soviets made full advantage of their excellent special teams. Two power-play goals by Boris Mikhailov gave the powerful Soviets a commanding 2-0 lead early
From that point on it was the Vladislav Tretiak show. Tretiak, quickly becoming a hero in Canada even though he was the star of the enemy team, stopped 38 of 41 shots, including 21 in the final period.
Gilbert Perreault scored a beautiful goal to get Canada on the board. It was ironic that it was Perreault who scored such a wonderful goal in Vancouver, as Perreault almost became a Vancouver Canuck a couple years earlier.
But after Perreault's goal the Soviets answered with two second period goals of their own. Vladimir Petrov set up Yuri Blinov for a nice goal on a two-on-one break. Later in the period Vladimir Vikulov capitalized from the slot while Team Canada's defenders were hopelessly out of position.
Canada played pretty well in the third period, but most of their 21 third period shots were from far out. Two goals by Dennis Hull and the goat earlier in the game Bill Goldsworthy surrounded Vladimir Shadrin's mid-period tally.
The 5-3 score was actually flattering to Canada on this night. Alan Eagleson honestly admitted "We stunk the joint out."
A crowd of 15,570 Vancouver fans echoed the rest of Canada's sentiments as they routinely booed Team Canada. At the conclusion of the game, Team Canada was booed right off the ice, which led to Phil Esposito's famous emotional outburst on national television.
"To the people across Canada, we tried. We gave it our best. To the people who booed us, geez, all of us guys are really disheartened. We're disillusioned and dsappointed. We cannot believe the bad press we've got, the booing we've got in our own building.
"I'm completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Every one of us guys -- 35 guys -- we came out because we love our country. Not for any other reason. We came because we love Canada."
Espo was in disbelief that Canadians would boo their players and that he assured Canadians that the players were giving "150 percentage" and acknowledge the Soviets as a great team with great players.
This speech seemed to light a fire under Team Canada and the whole country. It helped to jell a team of players who were together for only a few weeks, and who were enemies during the NHL season. Team Canada went to the Soviet Union as a team. And 3,000 boisterous and proud flag waving Canadian fans accompanied them.
Game 5, Sept. 22, 1972
Luzhniki Ice Palace, Moscow. USSR 5, Canada 4
Team Canada nicknamed themselves as Team 50 once they arrived in the Soviet Union. After being unceremoniously booed off the ice in the final game in Canada, the team felt alone in the world. Seemingly it was just the 50 of them (players plus the coaches, trainers, doctors, etc.) behind the vaunted Iron Curtain, and they were taking on the mighty Soviet empire all by themselves.
Or so they thought.
It quickly became obvious that they did, in fact, have the support of the Canadian public, and that played a major role in Canada's successes in Russia.
Approximately 3,000 Canadian fans made the trip to Moscow. They cheered on their heroes from bad seats in Luzhniki Ice Palace, but they didn't care. They cheered and partied so enthusiastically that the usually calm and collected Russian spectators seemed to be taken aback by the Canadians' behavior.
And tens of thousands of Canadians back home sent best wishes in the form of telegrams to the team. The team pasted these telegrams in their dressing room so that they would be reminded of the support that they did indeed have -- the support that they thought they had last after the first four games of the series.
Thirteen days separated Games 4 and 5. Canada prepared for the Moscow leg of the trip in Sweden where they would get used to the large ice surface by playing a couple of rough exhibition games.
Nearly everyone agreed that there was too much time between games, so everyone was relieved to drop the puck for Game 5. The Canadians were anxious and ready to get it back on.
Before the puck drop however there were some long pre-game ceremonies to go through. During the player introductions, Phil Esposito immediately made himself a crowd favorite in Russia as he slipped on the ice when he was introduced. The crowd chuckled while the blushing Esposito got up and bowed to the crowd with a huge smile on his face. That was just one of many memorable moments to come in Moscow.
Team Canada opened game 5 by playing the best first 40 minutes that they had played yet. They built a 3-0 lead, and were dominating the game. Jean-Paul Parise opened the scoring in the 1st period, making him the first Canadian professional to score a goal in Russia.
Paul Henderson was the star of this game. Already with one goal, he would crash heavily into the boards and lay motionless for sometime. He suffered a concussion, but refused to listen to doctor's advice and even the team's advice to sit for the rest of the game. He came back and scored on his very next shift. That goal gave Canada a commanding 4-1 lead in the third period.
Team Canada just seemed to stop skating in the third period and the Russians capitalized. It was just as if they flicked on a switch. Five third period goals on 11 shots had unthinkably given the Russians the 5-4 win.
The Russians had Team Canada backed into a corner. With a 3-1-1 lead, it now seemed next to impossible for Canada to win. The tides had turned. Team Soviet became complacent and arrogant. Canada was ready to fight back, and were coming together just at the right time.
Game 6, Sept. 24, 1972
Luzhniki Ice Palace, Moscow. Canada 3, USSR 2
After the Soviet come-from-behind victory in Game 5 to take a commanding 3-1-1 series lead, you would have expected Team Canada to be demoralized and dejected and Russia would have gone for the kill.
Things didn't exactly unfold that way, however. Canada kept positive and felt that they could still win, while Russia, admittedly in hindsight, became overconfident and ultimately allowed the Canadians back into the series.
Canada had felt like they were finally coming into form. Remember this was the beginning of the professionals' seasons, and unlike the Soviets who trained almost year round, the Canadians were just coming into game shape. And remember also that while the Russians knew all about the Canadian game, the Canadian knowledge of the Soviet strategy was nonexistent entering the series. Now, after five games, Canada felt they were prepared to play the Soviets.
The first period wasn't dominated by Esposito or Mahovlich, or by Yakushev or Kharlamov, but rather by two guys named Kompalla and Bata. They were the two referees from West Germany that were so brutally bad that it was charged that they were blatantly biased against the Canadian players. Canadian players were repeatedly sent to the penalty box for questionable and phantom penalties. Phantom offsides were being called as well. Somehow the Soviets were rarely being called for penalties, though. You can chalk it up to cultural differences in the differing styles of hockey. By the end of the game, the penalty minutes were 31 for Canada, just four for Russia.
Fortunately Team Canada's penalty killing was in top shape for this game, as the Soviets possessed a lethal power play.
After a scoreless first period, a flurry of scoring filled the second stanza. The Soviets opened the scoring as a low shot from the blue line by Yuri Liapkin.
The Canadians would not deflate after falling behind yet again. Instead they responded with several strong minutes of sustained attacks. The pressure paid off when they shocked the Soviets with three goals in a short span of just 1 minute and 23 seconds.
Dennis Hull flipped a Rod Gilbert rebound over a fallen Vladislav Tretiak for Canada's first goal at 5:13. Then at 6:31 Red Berenson was able to center the puck to an open Yvan Cournoyer. The Roadrunner buried the shot from the slot. And then just 15 seconds later, Paul Henderson scored what proved to be the game winning goal. He intercepted a pass by a Soviet defender and wired a slapshot past the unprepared Tretiak.
Team Canada's penalty killing played a huge roll in the outcome. The Soviets awesome powerplay was held to just one goal. That goal came late in the game as Alexander Yakushev made it 3-2 with a little over 2 minutes left.
The Soviets were actually unlucky to not have tied the game. Late in the second period, some people felt that the Soviets had scored a goal, but the officials never noticed and the Soviets never protested. Valeri Kharlamov was able to flip a light shot over Ken Dryden, but the puck seemed to be stopped by the old-style netting that hung down from the crossbar. The idea of the netting was to keep the puck in the net once it zoomed in there. But in this case, it slowed the puck down, and Dryden was able to reach back and glove it. The call by announcers was that the puck hit the goalpost.
Game 7, Sept. 26, 1972
Luzhniki Ice Palace, Moscow. Canada 4, USSR 3
Game 6 was Canada's first victory since Game 2. This sparked an outpouring of excitement back home, as some 50,000 rejuvenated fans sent telegrams and best wishes to the team. This helped motivate Team Canada, who were all but alone in the powerful, undemocratic country.
Somehow the victory in Game 6 provided a great sense of confidence in the team. No matter how unlikely it may have seemed to an outsider, the team truly believed that they would win Game 7, and then Game 8.
Russia would have to play the game without their flashiest superstar in Valeri Kharlamov, who was sitting out this game with a badly bruised ankle thanks to the dastardly Bobby Clarke in Game 6. At the urging of Team Canada co-coach John Ferguson, Clarke wielded his stick in axe like fashion to chop down the flashy star. Clarke would later admit he had every intention of breaking the ankle he was aiming for.
Canada got off to a strong start in what might have been the best played game of the series. At just 4:09 of the game Phil Esposito opened the scoring thanks to a Ron Ellis centering pass.
Six minutes later the Soviets tied it up. Alexander Yakushev took advantage of a stumbling Brad Park to break in alone on Tony Esposito, slipping the puck between the goaltender's pads.
Park was victimized again for the 2-1 goal late in the period. While killing a penalty the puck bounced off of Park's skate directly to Vladimir Petrov's stick. Petrov easily converted.
Before the period was over Phil Esposito somehow managed to get the puck through a maze of players in front of the Soviet net and past the screened Vladislav Tretiak.
Goaltending was the story of the second period, particularly by Tony Esposito. Russia outshot Canada 13-7 in the frame, but no one was able to beat either puck stopper.
The tie was finally broken early in the third period when Rod Gilbert emerged from behind the net to stuff a backhand shot behind Tretiak.
The lead would be short lived as Yakushev scored his second of the game to tie the score at 3. Those Soviet teams were so amazing. Whenever the opposition thought they finally got a break against them, the Russians would seemingly always respond quickly and emphatically.
After the tying goal Russia seemed to put their offensive attack into a higher gear, but Tony Esposito was up to the task. He made half a dozen spectacular saves. However the Soviet momentum soon subsided, and the teams played tight, defensive hockey for the rest of the game. Neither team wanted to make a mistake.
At 16:26 of that final period, one of the most disturbing scenes in hockey history occurred. Soviet captain Boris Mikhailov and Canadian defenseman Gary Bergman collided along the side boards and began to push and shove. That's when the overmatched Mikhailov committed hockey's cardinal sin and used his skates as a weapon. He kicked at Bergman's shins repeatedly.
Bergman, who was cut but not seriously injured on the play, responded by ramming Mikhailov's head into the chicken wire that was used in Luzhniki Ice Palace instead of Plexiglas.
The melee could have turned into an all-out brawl, as both team benches emptied. Fortunately the two sides were out there to break up the fight and restore calm. A brawl would have been a major disaster for the participants and the sport in general.
The players settled down but it was Canada who seemed to find an edge of momentum once play resumed. And that enabled Paul Henderson to score his second consecutive game-winning goal.
With less than three minutes left to play, Henderson was sprung lose thanks to a nice pass from Serge Savard. Henderson was in alone on two Soviet defenseman -- normally an impossible scoring chance. He crossed so that the two defensemen were forced to cross positions as well, resulting in a moment of confusion between the two comrades. Henderson slid the puck through the defenseman's legs and went around. Instead of playing the man, defenseman Evgeny Tsygankov tried to play the puck. He failed to stop the puck and Henderson was in alone. He scored just under the crossbar while falling down as the defenders tackled him.
Henderson seemed as surprised as anyone that he was able to score that goal. Henderson was a role player, not a superstar, yet that was a superstar's goal. It is one of the prettiest goals ever caught on film.
Yet it was just a hint of what was to come for Canada's newest hero.
"I sat there after the game and said: 'I will never score a bigger goal than this in my life and I can die a happy man,'" Henderson remembered 30 years later.
Of course he would be even happier a couple of nights later.
Game 8, Sept. 28, 1972
Luzhniki Ice Palace, Moscow. Canada 6, USSR 5
Momentum was clearly on the Canadian side heading into decisive Game 8, yet they still had to win the game in order to claim victory in the series. A tie game would result in a tied series, but the Russians would have claimed victory because they had scored one more goal. That didn't sit well with the Canadians, so Team 50 set out to make sure that would not happen.
It became apparent early on that the Russian bureaucrats were going to do everything they could to see that the Russian hockey would be victorious, including cheating. And cheating is exactly what they did.
On the evening before the concluding game, the Russians switched officials. It was agreed upon earlier that Swedish referee Uve Dahlberg and Czechoslovakian referee Rudy Bata would officiate the final game, but Dahlberg had suspiciously fallen ill -- food poisoning was the story.
The Russians said that West German officials Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader, who both horrendously officiated Game 6, would have to officiate the final game. But Canada wanted no part of that. Those two, Kompalla in particular, proved to be brutally incompetent. The power-play advantages given to the Soviets so outrageously outnumbered the advantages given to Canada in Game 6 that one had to wonder if they were deliberately trying to throw the game.
Canada wanted no part of such an arrangement. Alan Eagleson had threatened to leave without ever playing Game 8, and, at least on the night prior to the big game, he had the support of the players on that issue. By doing so the Soviets would lose out on thousands of dollars of television money.
An agreement was made just hours before game time. The Canadians would stay and play Game 8 and each team would choose one official each. Canada chose Bata, while Russia chose Kompalla.
The Soviet's actions may have done more harm to their cause than good. Team Canada was able to redirect some of the pressure facing them because of this distraction. Yet they remained not only focussed on the hockey game itself, but were more intense and angrier than ever before. Canada coupled that intensity with the momentum and confidence they had gained in the previous two victories.
Team Canada's fears about referee Kompalla were quickly realized. Just 2:25 into the game Bill White was given a questionable penalty, followed by another to Peter Mahovlich just 36 seconds later. The game was just three minutes old and already Canada was having to kill off a two-man disadvantage. Thirty-three seconds later Alexander Yakushev opened the scoring.
Less than a minute later, Kompalla was at it again. At 4:10 J.P. Parise was given a minor penalty that was even more questionable than the others. Parise became enraged, slamming his stick on the ice so that it splintered while he yelled obscenities. Kompalla added a 10-minute misconduct on top of the two-minute minor.
That almost pushed Parise over the top. Parise aggressively skated up to Kompalla, who was positioned along the boards. Parise stopped just shy of doing what would have been one of the blackest marks in hockey history. He pulled his stick well over his head and was about to whack the referee like he was a piņata. Thankfully he stopped himself in time. Kompalla rightfully added a game misconduct on to Parise's penalty total.
Team Canada seemed to settle down after the outburst. And, for whatever reason, the refereeing improved somewhat, too. Canada was still getting penalties, but so were the Soviets. At least the bias wasn't as obviously blatant from that point on in the game.
Phil Esposito scored at 6:45 to tie the game for a few minutes. But by 13:10 Soviet defenseman Vladimir Lutchenko tallied on a power play but Canada left the first period tied at two thanks to a wonderful passing play finished off by Brad Park.
Canada had survived the early moments and appeared to be in good shape heading into the second period. But a fluke goal put the Soviets back in the lead just 21 seconds into the second frame.
Vladimir Shadrin tapped in a crazy rebound behind a surprised Ken Dryden in the Canadian goal. Big Yakushev fired the puck well over the net, hitting the mesh netting that accompanied the boards instead of Plexiglas as in North American rinks. The springy wiring caused the puck to bounce right back into the slot where Shadrin was waiting.
The goal deflated Canada, and the Russians could feel it. They pressured the Canadian zone throughout the second period, feeling that the game could be put away if they could jump on Canada at this point.
Despite the brilliant netminding by Ken Dryden in the period, the Russian's persistent attack paid off with three goals compared to Canada's one. The Russians held a commanding 5-3 lead after two periods of play.
Despite the score, Canada headed into the second intermission very positively. They felt they were playing a good game thus far. And oddly enough, every player on that team will tell you there was an unreal aura of confidence in the room that they were going to comeback. There was not a negative thought among them.
Canada took to the ice led by Phil Esposito. He had an incredible period of hockey. Coach Harry Sinden called period 3 "his finest hour," which is really saying something since he had been Canada's undisputed leader all series.
It was Espo who scored the all important early goal at just 2:27 of the third, narrowing the score to 5-4.
Canada continued to pour it on, and at 12:56 tied up the score, thanks to Esposito once again. Espo refused to be denied as he shook off two defenders and tested Tretiak with a good shot. Tretiak made the stop, but he was unable to stop Yvan Cournoyer's tap in on the rebound.
An interesting melee erupted after that goal was scored, but this didn't involve Team Canada and their on ice opponents, but rather Team Canada and the military policemen in the stands.
The Soviet goal judge did not turn on the red light when Cournoyer tied the score. This enraged Alan Eagleson, who feared the Soviets were going to cry "no goal." Eagleson, who was in the stands, tried to make his way to the public address announcer's booth to make sure that the goal was announced. He pushed his way past several of these military men who did not appreciate Eagleson's actions. They apprehended Eagleson and started to drag him off.
That's when big Peter Mahovlich showed up and poked the militia men with his stick. Mahovlich, who actually hopped the boards and was in the crowd in a scrum with the Russian military men, was quickly followed by his teammates.
Of course now the common joke is that they never should have rescued Eagleson, given his history which was revealed years later. But at the time it was quite something to witness. It was said that Team Canada was at war when they were in Moscow. For a few minutes, they actually did fight Soviet soldiers.
Eagleson was escorted across the ice to the Canadian bench. Embarrassingly, Eagleson shook his fist at the crowd in disgust, while trainer Joe Sgro, dressed in an embarrassing 1970s outfit of red pants, red shirt and red jacket, fingered the crowd.
Somehow, Team Canada was able to remain composed despite this, while the Soviets seemed to be on the ropes and playing for the tie.
For much of the rest of the period it appeared that the Soviets would get that tie, and then they would claim victory on a goals for ratio of 32 to 31.
Then the greatest moment in Canada's sporting history, perhaps in Canadian history period, was delivered by two familiar names.
Yvon Cournoyer intercepted a Soviet clearing attempt and fired a cross ice pass to a streaking Paul Henderson, who had called off the line's usual left winger Peter Mahovlich in order to get on the ice.
The pass was behind Henderson. No. 19 was also tripped up on the play and went crashing into the end boards behind the Soviet defenders.
Fortunately for Canada, Phil Esposito was following up on the play. He was dead tired and probably should have gone to the bench, but he was determined to be out there until the end of the game.
Espo poked the puck towards Tretiak for an easy save, but by this time Henderson had gotten back on his feet and gained the rebound. Henderson shovelled the puck towards the goal line. Tretiak made yet another save, but left another rebound, too. Henderson, unchecked by any Soviet player, was able to flip the final rebound over a sprawled-out Tretiak.
The country erupted as did the Team Canada bench. Henderson jumped into Cournoyer's arms just long enough for Denis Brodeur (Martin Brodeur's father) to snap the most famous photograph in hockey history. Shortly afterwards the duo was mobbed by the entire Canadian roster who vacated their bench.
Canada needed to compose themselves for a final 34 seconds, as the Soviets were more than capable of tying up the game in such a short time frame.
Canada sent out a line of Esposito with Pete Mahovlich and Ron Ellis and shut them down for 34 seconds that must have felt like 34 minutes for Team Canada.
When the final buzzer sounded, 3,000 Canadian fans burst into the sweetest rendition of O Canada ever heard, as the players embraced on the ice. Some openly wept, something rarely seen among NHL professionals, even after capturing the Stanley Cup.
Joe Pelletier is a hockey researcher who runs 1972SummitSeries.com. These recaps are reprinted with permission from the author. Pelletier has contributed to Total Hockey in the past, and his new book (co-written by Patrick Houda) The World Cup of Hockey will be released by Warwick Publishing in October.