All the faults
and failures of the Czechs were forgotten by their victory-hungry supporters
when the home side whipped Canada 5-3 in a bristling windup to the big show.
Canada had the championship practically wrapped up before the face-off, whether
they won or lost. If two teams tie in games won and lost, as Canada and Russia
did, the victor is the team with the better goal-scoring average in the
tournament, which is determined by comparing the total number of goals scored
against all opponents with the total number of goals allowed. Canada scored 21
goals and allowed seven. The Soviet Union scored 20 and allowed 10.
But the Canadians
were anxious to preserve their unbeaten record. Trailing 4-3 with two minutes
remaining, Coach Ike Hildebrand gambled for a tie by lifting his goalie in
favor of a sixth attacker. From a face-off in the Czech zone the puck skidded
out to Miroslav Vlach, a rugged Czech forward who had been in Canada's hair all
day. Vlach pushed the disc slowly in the direction of the Canadian goal while
fans all over the nation held their breath. The puck finally reached and
entered the empty cage, and the joyous Czechs danced with glee. The extra goal
gave Czechoslovakia third place in the standings, ahead of the U.S. Russia was
second and thereby gained the European title.
As the Canadian
colors climbed the flagpole, and the usual crowd—close to 15,000—stood at
attention for O Canada, Promoter Ahearne had visions of a million-dollar gate
for the tournament when all returns were in. Nothing like this ever happened in
amateur hockey before.