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When it was over the Russians had won the battle but lost the campaign. Two of their best players—Sidorenkov and Dimitri Ukolov, both defensemen—were out for the balance of the tournament. Ukolov had a damaged shoulder and Sidorenkov suffered a charley horse.
The Soviets lost some hero worshipers. Czech fans who had hailed them with cries of "Sovietsi do toho [Soviet, Go! Go!]" gave them scarcely a ripple of applause at the end. It was reminiscent of the silence in the packed rink at Bratislava when the public address announcer revealed that Russia had beaten the U.S. in a qualifying match.
Like the loyal home fans, Promoter Ahearne may have overestimated the strength of the Czechoslovak team, which reputedly had stopped the Russians twice right in Moscow. Ahearne had seeded Czechoslovakia and Canada to meet in the final game.
The Canadians—a collection of amateurs and reinstated pros called the McFarlands, from Belleville, Ont.—regarded the Russians as the team they had to beat. They seemed justified when clobbering the Czechs 7-2 in the qualifying round.
Canada's set-to with the Soviets pointed up the one mistake committed by Ahearne. He should have saved this one for the end. What the Canadians conceded in speed they more than made up in experience and poise. Their former pros, who had been criticized at home as "weary and over the hill," quickly spotted flaws in the methodical Soviet system.
Said tough little Ike Hildebrand, onetime sharpshooter of the Cleveland Barons, who coaches and plays for the McFarlands: "If those Russians ever learn to cut in toward the center when they're going in on goal they'll be awful tough. Now they always swing wide to drop the puck into the slot. We know what to expect."
The Canadians grabbed a two-goal lead in the first 12 minutes when Dennis Boucher and Moe Benoit slipped the puck past the acrobatic Nikolai Puchkov in the Soviet cage. With that comfortable lead the Canadians played it cozy, dumping the puck into the Soviet goal zone and attempting to keep the fight for possession in the Russian end of the rink. The strategy almost backfired when the fast-skating Soviets threw five men into the attack. Only sensational goaling by Gordie Bell, another ex-pro, who was a standout with Buffalo, turned back the Red tide.
The Russians showed their rigid discipline at the end of the second period. They finally beat Bell, but the referee ruled that the puck had entered the net after the buzzer had sounded to end the period. It hadn't been heard because of the pandemonium in the rink. The Russians accepted the ruling without a word of protest. Hildebrand made it 3-0 for Canada in the third period, and the Russians obviously were bushed. One of their fine new rookies, Viktor Jakusev, saved them from a shutout with a backhand shot.
After the victory over their traditional Russian rivals, the defeat of the Canadians by Czechoslovakia in the windup on Sunday was strictly anticlimax, because by that time the Czechs were out of the running, thanks to a 4-2 loss to the Americans, who came up with a great game.