The Summit Series, or Super Series (in Russian Суперсерия СССР — Канада), known at the time simply as the Canada–USSR Series, was an eight-game series of ice hockey between the Soviet Union and Canada, held in September 1972. It was the first competition between the Soviet national team and a Canadian team represented by professional players of the National Hockey League (NHL), known as Team Canada.
It was the first international ice hockey competition for Canada after Canada had withdrawn from international ice hockey competitions in a dispute with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The series was organized with the intention to create a true best-on-best competition in the sport of ice hockey.
The Soviets had become the dominant team in international competitions, which disallowed the professional players of Canada. Canada had had a long history of dominance of the sport prior to the Soviets’ rise.
The first four games of the series were held in Canada and the final four in Moscow. The Soviet Union surprised the Canadian team and most of the hockey media with an opening game victory, 7–3. Many sportswriters had predicted an overwhelming victory for Canada in the series. Canada won the next game 4–1; the third game was a tie and the Soviets won game four to take a two games to one lead after the Canadian segment.
The series resumed two weeks later in Moscow. The Soviets won game five to take a three games to one series lead. The Canadians won the final three games in Moscow to win the series four games to three, with one tie. The final game was won in dramatic fashion, with the Canadians overcoming a two-goal Soviet lead after two periods. The Canadians scored three in the third, the final one scored with 34 seconds left, by Paul Henderson.
The series was played during the Cold War, and intense feelings of nationalism were aroused in both Canada and the Soviet Union, as well as on the ice. The games introduced several talented Soviet players to North America, such as Alexander Yakushev, Valeri Kharlamov and goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, a future Hall of Fame inductee.
Team Canada, the first NHL and professional all-star team formed for international play, was led by Phil Esposito, who led the series in scoring, as well as contributing in other roles. The Canadian line of Bobby Clarke, Ron Ellis and Henderson, which was not expected to start for the team, as none were yet stars, played a surprisingly large role in the Canadian win.
The series was filled with controversy, starting with the exclusion of top Canadian player Bobby Hull and including disputes over officiating, dirty play on the part of both teams and the deliberate injury of Kharlamov by Clarke in game six that likely affected the outcome of the series.
5 The series
6 Other Team Canada games
9 Schedule and results
11 See also
13 External links
From the beginning of the IIHF World Championships in 1920, Canada would send a senior amateur club team, usually the previous year’s Allan Cup champion, to compete as the Canadian entry. These teams were often university players, or unpaid players playing ice hockey while being employed in some other profession full-time. From the 1920s until the 1950s, Canadian amateur club teams won most of the World Championship and Olympic titles.
As a career, Canadian players would play instead in the various professional hockey leagues, the best reaching the NHL. Their professional status made them ineligible to play in the World Championships or Olympics under the rules of the time. The last Canadian amateur club to win the world championship was the Trail Smoke Eaters in 1961.
In the earliest days of the Soviet Union, bandy or “Russian hockey” was played, not “Canadian hockey”, and the Soviets did not compete in the Olympics or World Championships, which played the Canadian game. Post-World War II, the goal of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union was world supremacy in sport.
The decision was made to transfer resources to the Canadian game. Starting in the 1940s, the Soviet Union started a Soviet hockey league playing the Canadian game. The elite sports societies of the Soviet Union, such as Central Sports Club Army, Dynamo and Spartak, soon became the elite teams of the hockey league and supplied the players for the national team. Ostensibly amateurs, the players played hockey full-time, paid by the government.
The players had other titular professions; for example Moscow Dynamo players became officers of the KGB; CSKA Moscow players became officers in the army. This preserved a player’s amateur status for Olympic and World Championship eligibility and the players would have a career after their hockey playing days ended.
Entering international play in 1954, the Soviet national team under the tutelage of Anatoli Tarasov started to dominate the international competitions, and won nine consecutive championships in the 1960s. Canada, in response, developed a national team of its own. But Canada’s best players usually became professionals and the national team featured mostly university players.
The Canadian team did not win any championships and was looked upon as a failure. By 1969, the Government of Canada had formed Hockey Canada, an organization to co-ordinate Canadian international play with its amateur organizations and the NHL. In July 1969, on a trial basis, the inclusion of nine professional players for any event for one year was agreed to by the IIHF.
Canada entered a team with five professionals in the Izvestia tournament at Christmas in 1969, and nearly won the tournament. The IIHF then convened an emergency meeting in January 1970, and the rule allowing professionals was rescinded.
In response, Canada withdrew from IIHF play. The 1970 IIHF World Championships, scheduled to be held in Canada for the first time, were transferred to Sweden after Canada refused to host the event.
The Canadian embassy in Moscow learned of the Soviets’ interest in a series initially through reading an article in the Soviet Izvestia newspaper in the winter of 1971–1972.
Diplomat Gary Smith, responsible for sport and cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union, read that the Soviets were looking for a new challenge in ice hockey. Smith met with Izvestia sports editor Boris Fedosov initially, then followed up with a meeting with Soviet hockey boss Andrei Starovoitov.
The Soviets divulged that they were ready to play in a series between its national team and Canadian professionals. After the meetings, Canadian ambassador Robert Ford passed the matter to Ottawa to negotiate a series and Hockey Canada was given the task to nail down the terms for a series.
Hockey Canada and the Soviet Hockey Federation met in Prague in April 1972 during the IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. The two sides agreed on the terms: four games in Canada, to be held in Montreal (Montreal Forum), Toronto (Maple Leaf Gardens), Winnipeg (Winnipeg Arena), and Vancouver (Pacific Coliseum) and four games in the Soviet Union, all of them to be held in Moscow at the Luzhniki Ice Palace.
The Canadians agreed to hold the series in September and play the games under international rules. The Canadians agreed to IIHF amateur referees in the Canada part of the series, and European referees in the Moscow games. The refereeing would use the international two referee system, not the one referee, two linemen system in place in the NHL, and, at the time, being introduced into international play.
The Canadian side agreed to the terms under the belief that the Canadians would have no difficulty winning under any set of conditions. Joe Kryczka, president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), who was present at the negotiations, felt however, that the Soviets had demanded the concessions for their own benefit, believing that their team was already equal to any NHL team. The NHL later requested dates in October or November but the idea was abandoned.
NHL players’ union president and Hockey Canada director Alan Eagleson, while not involved in the initial negotiations, became a central figure in the organization of the series. Eagleson, who could call on a personal network of players, NHL owners, Hockey Canada executives and Canadian business, would be involved in most arrangements for the Canadian team. Eagleson would confide to Toronto Star reporter Alexander Ross, that he “un-negotiated” much of what had been negotiated between the governments.
Eagleson placated the NHL owners by arranging that part of the series’ proceeds would go to the NHL player’s pension fund, reducing payments from the owners, and threatening to have his player clients play without NHL co-operation. Before the first game, Eagleson personally paid to settle a lawsuit won by a Montreal man, whose car had been destroyed in the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. The court had ordered the Soviet team’s hockey equipment seized to guarantee payment, threatening the start of the series.
Former Boston Bruins‘ coach Harry Sinden, who had been out of hockey since leaving the Bruins in 1970, was suggested by the media as a good candidate for the job of Team Canada’s coach. Ron Brown, a sportswriter from Kingston, Ontario called Sinden and in the interview, Sinden admitted that he was available and willing to take the position.
After a phone call from Sinden to Alan Eagleson, it was arranged for Sinden to have an interview with Hockey Canada’s steering committee for the series in June. After the one interview, Hockey Canada selected Sinden for the position. Sinden selected former player John Ferguson as his assistant coach, after initially trying to recruit Ferguson as a player.
The Soviets selected Vsevolod Bobrov as the coach for the series. Bobrov was a former player who had played against Team Canada in the 1950s and later managed the Soviet national soccer team and the Moscow Spartak ice hockey team. Bobrov had been given the job as the Soviets’ national ice hockey team coach, replacing long-time coach Anatoli Tarasov after the 1972 Winter Olympics.
This was his second international assignment; his first was the 1972 World Championship, where Czechoslovakia had defeated the Soviet Union, ending a run of nine consecutive championships by the Soviets.
The Canadian team would be known as Team Canada for the first time. The name and sweater design was done by advertising agency Vickers and Benson. Eagleson wanted to call the team the “NHL All-Stars”, but the agency convinced Eagleson otherwise, as the teams were from the USSR and Canada.
The name Team Canada was inspired by the contemporary auto-racing team Team McLaren. The name is attributed to copy writer Terry Hill, whose first choice “The Dream Team” was rejected. The design of the sweater by designer John Lloyd utilized an enormous stylized maple leaf, like the Canadian flag, that covers the front. No numbers were on the sleeves, only on the back with the wording “CANADA” above the number.
The sweater used only two colours: red and white, the maple leaf, numbers and letters in one colour and the rest of the sweater the other. The name, sweater design and a team song were all prepared in 24 hours, in time for a previously scheduled news conference. The series itself was simply known at the time as the Canada-USSR Series, although the name “Friendship Series” had been suggested by the Government of Canada Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Along with coaching, Harry Sinden was given the task of selecting Team Canada, which would be the first true “team” composed of NHL all-stars. When Sinden announced the list of 35 Canadian players on July 12, one of the conditions of playing was revealed; that players would have to have a signed NHL contract by August 13.
His list of players included Bobby Hull, who by that time had already signed with the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) league. Three other players Sinden named: Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson and J. C. Tremblay had not yet signed with the WHA, but would do so and become ineligible. The condition had been negotiated between the NHL and Hockey Canada, and the NHL would not relent.
The condition was widely criticized, including by the NHL’s own Harold Ballard, the Toronto Maple Leafs owner and a harsh opponent of the WHA. Ballard felt that the series was the “unofficial world series of hockey and we want to win”. Phil Reimer, a governor of Hockey Canada resigned over the matter. Prime Minister Trudeau made a personal appeal, but Doug Fisher, chairman of Hockey Canada refused to re-open the agreement between the NHL and Hockey Canada.
Prior to training camp, there were several changes in the roster. Jacques Laperriere withdrew and Guy Lapointe was selected as his replacement. Dennis Hull, brother of Bobby, considered turning down his invitation, but accepted because Bobby wished him to.
Cheevers was replaced by his Boston team-mate Eddie Johnston.Stan Mikita replaced Sanderson.Rick Martin replaced Bobby Hull.Bobby Orr, who was selected to the team although he was injured, remained with the team during the series and practiced with the team, but did not play in any games.
Team Canada assembled in Toronto and started training camp on August 13. Sinden named four co-captains: Phil Esposito, Frank Mahovlich, Stan Mikita and Jean Ratelle. The team trained for three weeks in Toronto, and arrived in Montreal on August 31 for the first game. The team held a practice on September 1 at the Forum.
The unheralded line of Bobby Clarke, Ron Ellis and Paul Henderson impressed in camp, enough to earn a place in the starting lineup for game one.
The Soviets named 31 players for its roster on August 11. The roster included four goaltenders led by 20-year-old Vladislav Tretiak, Olympic and two-time world champion. The defence was led by Alexander Ragulin, who had played in three Olympics and nine world championships.
The team was a veteran team with only a handful of players to make their national team debut. Several players were named provisionally, depending on their performance in the Sovietsky Sport tournament being held during August. Boris Kulagin, coach of Krylia Sovietov, was named the assistant coach.
Among the forwards, the team did not name Anatoli Firsov, regarded as the “Bobby Hull” of the Soviets, who had reportedly spoken out against his new coach. Most of the players named were from the Soviet “Red Army” team HC CSKA Moscow, the team managed by former national coach Tarasov.
Along with their regular training, Bobrov had the Soviet players take boxing lessons in preparation for the series. The Soviets arrived in Montreal not long before the series, on August 30. Staying at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, the team began two-a-day workouts at the St. Laurent Arena the next day.
They were already acclimatized to the time zone as the team had been training on Montreal time for two weeks before travelling there. They brought 15 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders. Veteran defenceman Vitaly Davydov did not accompany the team to Canada. The reason given was injury, but the media questioned if Davydov had fallen out of favour with Bobrov. Firsov was reported as having a knee injury to explain his omission from the team.
During the pre-series period, two observers of the opposing team were allowed to scout the teams. Toronto Maple Leafs coach John McLellan and Bob Davidson, the Leafs’ head scout went to Russia to observe the Soviets in the Sovietsky Sport tournament.
McLellan and Davidson observed two games, while Kulagin, along with Arkadi Cherneshev, a former assistant to Tarasov, observed all of the Canadians’ practices in Toronto.
While the Russian team was in Canada, Rick Noonan, a trainer for the University of British Columbia’s sports teams, was assigned by Hockey Canada to assist the Soviets. Noonan, who would be later be named general manager of Team Canada for the 1980 Winter Olympics, was the only Canadian to have regular access to the Soviet’s locker room, and he was behind the Soviet’s bench during the first four games of the Summit Series.
At the time, the National Hockey League was considered to be where the best hockey players played, and its best players consisted largely of Canadians. The public consensus of hockey pundits and fans in North America was that other countries, the Soviets in this case, were simply no match for Canada’s best.
The Soviets were not expected to even give the Canadians a challenge, and Canada was going into this series expected to win handily. According to Team Canada Coach Harry Sinden: “Canada is first in the world in two things: hockey and wheat.” Alan Eagleson said “We gotta win in eight games. Anything less than an unblemished sweep of the Russians would bring shame down on the heads of the players and the national pride.” The Soviets downplayed themselves, stating that they were in the series to learn.
In a poll of experts conducted by The Hockey News, not one expected the Soviets to win a single game. Journalist Dick Beddoes of Toronto’s The Globe and Mail offered to eat his words “shredded at high noon in a bowl of borscht on the steps of the Russian Embassy” if the Soviets won one game.
Canadian journalists Milt Dunnell (Toronto Star), Jim Coleman (Southam) and Claude Larochelle (Le Soleil) predicted results of seven wins to one for the Soviets. American journalists Gerald Eskenazi (New York Times) and Fran Rosa (Boston Globe) predicted eight wins to none, while Mark Mulvoy (Sports Illustrated) predicted seven wins to one for Canada.
Before the first game, former Canadiens’ star goaltender Jacques Plante gave Soviet goaltender Tretiak advice on how to play the NHL forwards. Plante did this because he was “thinking of the humiliation he was almost certain to suffer.” Plante himself predicted Canada would win “eight straight.” In a game scouted by Team Canada, Tretiak had given up nine goals, in a game played the day after his wedding.
A few Canadians gave a dissenting prognosis of the series. John Robertson of the Montreal Star warned that Team Canada was too poorly prepared and out of shape to win the series. He blamed the NHL:
“This, the most important hockey event of our time, has been tacked onto the front of the NHL season as something only tolerated by the owners, and endorsed by the players as a means of enriching their pension plan.” Former professional player Billy Harris who had coached Sweden’s national team earlier in the year, predicted a Soviets’ win, largely on the strength of Tretiak’s goaltending.
Prior to the series, Bobrov held a press luncheon in Moscow. He refused to consider that either team would sweep the series. To him, Team Canada had “the fire power, know-how and goaltending”, but how would it adapt to international rules, two-referee system and amateur officials?
He conceded that Phil Esposito would “be difficult to move from the front of the net. I expect there will be some surprises for us when we meet your Canadian stars.” He also predicted that Valeri Kharlamov “will stand out, even against your best Canadians. By North American standards, he is small but he has an excellent shot. I think he will be effective.” Sinden was aware of Kharlamov and he selected Ron Ellis to the Team Canada roster especially to cover Kharlamov.
Game one was held in Montreal in a very warm Montreal Forum on September 2 before 18,818 fans. The gamesmanship between the teams started before the first face-off. Canada was assigned the home team for all games in Canada, while the Soviets would be the home team in Moscow. The Soviets would not release their lineup until they had seen their opponents’, the opposite order, considering they were the visitors.
The official scorer had to return to the Soviets’ dressing room and demand the lineup. To Sinden, he wanted to put the Ellis-Clarke-Henderson line on against Valeri Kharlamov’s line. The Soviets did not start Kharlamov’s line and Sinden named Phil Esposito’s line for the opening face-off.
The move paid off as Phil Esposito scored for Canada after just 30 seconds of play, knocking a puck out of the air behind the Soviets’ goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. But even after a few minutes, Sinden felt the Soviets were coming on and having no difficulty getting through Canada’s defence. Henderson scored after six minutes to give Canada a two-goal lead on a face-off win by Clarke, the only advantage that Team Canada had, in Sinden’s estimation.
To Canadian spectators and the media, the second goal gave the appearance that the pre-series predictions of a rout had been proven correct. But the Soviets got over any awe of the NHLers and scored two goals to tie the score before the end of the first period. Yevgeni Zimin scored on a pass from behind the net, and Vladimir Petrov scored a short-handed goal on a Soviet two-on-one break, with Petrov potting the rebound.
According to Sinden, the Canadian players had lost their poise, “running all over the ice” to establish their hitting game, while the Soviets used an unexpected tactic, that of the long pass, to break a man out of their defensive zone. The Canadian defence was also dropping to the ice to block shots, while the Soviets only skated around the defence to get a good shot.
Although Tretiak had given up the two Canada goals on the first two shots, he recovered later in the period to make a couple of critical saves off Esposito at point-blank range. According to Esposito, “at Christmas time, it would have been 4–0 for us.”
In the second period, Kharlamov scored on a great individual effort to put the Soviets ahead. Kharlamov deked Don Awrey, skated around him, faked a back-hand shot on Dryden, but scored on the fore-hand. Kharlamov then scored a second goal to give the Soviets a two-goal lead at the end of the second period. During the period, the air temperature in the Forum increased. By the end of the second period, the temperature in the Forum had reached 115 °F (46 °C).
Sinden made changes for the third period. He benched Awrey and the Jean Ratelle line, going with three lines. In the third, Clarke scored to bring Canada within one. The Canadians attempted to get the equalizer, and Yvan Cournoyer put a puck off the post, but the Soviets broke out afterwards and Boris Mikhailov scored on the counter-attack to restore the two-goal lead with six minutes to play.
Mikhailov skated across the Canadian net about 20 feet out, lured Dryden away from the net, then back-handed the puck into the net between his legs. The strategy of three lines, combined with the heat in the arena, had left the Canadians exhausted by then and the Soviets scored twice in the final minutes to finish with a 7–3 victory.
“I was stunned by their performance” was Sinden’s assessment. Former Montreal Canadiens‘ coach Claude Ruel commented that the Soviets’ forwards were one of the most finely honed units he had ever seen. “They are always moving, never standing around, they head-man the puck as well as anyone has ever done — and they always seem to be in the right place.”
According to Canada’s goaltender Ken Dryden: “We didn’t play our game at all. After they tied it up, we started playing a panic type of game. Sometimes there were five men going for the puck at once.” At the end of the game, Team Canada accidentally snubbed the Soviets by returning to the dressing room directly without shaking hands with the Soviets after the game.
The win by the Soviets was celebrated into the early hours back home, and many took the next day off work. Valeri Kharlamov’s father Boris held an impromptu party at his Moscow apartment.
The second game was played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Sinden sat out several players from the first game, including Don Awrey, Red Berenson, Ken Dryden, Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle, Mickey Redmond and Rod Seiling. Hadfield took the benching hard, as he was from the Toronto area and felt he was being embarrassed in front of his home town. On defence, Serge Savard, Pat Stapleton and Bill White were added.
On offence, Stan Mikita, Wayne Cashman and J. P. Parise were added. Tony Esposito took over goaltending duties. Sinden’s changes were to get “the diggers into the game and try to grind the Russians down. We had went for speed and quickness in our first lineup, yet the Russians were still faster and quicker.”
Team Canada responded to their previous defeat with strong play in this game. The first period was scoreless, but the Canadians used the period to intimidate the Soviets with hard body checking, especially from Cashman, Bergman, Peter Mahovlich and Parise, to throw the Soviets off their game. In the second period, the first goal of the match was again scored by Esposito, this time from a feed from his regular Bruins’ linemate Cashman, who had retrieved the puck deep in the Soviets’ zone after colliding with the Soviets’ defenceman Vladimir Lutchenko.
In the third period, Yvan Cournoyer wheeled around Alexander Ragulin and beat Tretiak. Yakushev got the Soviets on the board after team-mate Yevgeni Zimin missed on a break-away. Lyapkin pounced on the rebound and fed it out front for Yakushev to bury the puck behind Esposito. Peter Mahovlich then scored a critical goal while Canada was short-handed, deking out the Soviet defender one-on-one, then Tretiak, to give Canada a two-goal lead. His brother Frank then finished the scoring on a feed from Mikita, who had circled around a Soviets’ defenceman. Team Canada won the game 4–1 and tied the series.
The Soviet coaches blamed the loss on the refereeing. Bobrov complained that the pair of American referees, Frank Larsen and Steve Dowling, let the Canadians get away with everything. After the game, the head of the USSR Hockey Federation, Andrei Starovoitov, charged the door of the officials’ dressing room and kicked chairs over. The pair of referees, scheduled to referee game four in Vancouver, were replaced by the pair who had refereed game one and game three, Gord Lee and Len Gagnon. Team Canada agreed to the request by the Soviets to change referees, apparently not aware of Starovoitov’s tantrum after game two.
Game three was held in Winnipeg on September 6. After the second game, the Soviets said that they had strayed into playing too much of the Canadian style, as individuals, and promised to return to their team style for the third game. Canada went with the same lineup as game two, with the exception of Ratelle replacing Bill Goldsworthy. Team Canada held leads of 3–1 and 4–2, but the Soviet side responded and the game ended in a 4–4 tie.
Canada took the lead only 1:54 into the game on a goal by J. P. Parise, but Petrov replied short-handed at 3:16 to tie the game. Petrov stole the puck from Frank Mahovlich and broke away and deked Tony Esposito to score. After a strong fore-check by the Canadians on the Soviets in their zone, Ratelle scored to put Canada ahead 2–1 after the first.
Wayne Cashman dug the puck out of a scrum in the corner to feed the puck to Phil Esposito who scored to put Canada ahead 3–1. On another Canadian power play, Kharlamov was circling behind the Canadian defence and received a pass to put himself on a breakaway. Kharlamov deked Tony Esposito to score the Soviets’ second short-handed goal. Paul Henderson scored seconds later to restore the two-goal lead, on an individual effort.
The Soviets’ “Youngster’s Line” of Yuri Lebedev, Vyacheslav Anisin and Alexander Bodunov then scored two goals to tie the game at 4–4 after two periods.
Team Canada assistant coach Ferguson felt that the Canadians had gotten over-confident. “I was fooled again. I felt that after we had taken a 3–1 lead, the final score might be something like 7–1. But those two short-handed goals. When you score one short-handed goal it can turn it all around. But two? That’s almost fatal.”
According to Tim Burke of the Montreal Gazette, both goaltenders, Tony Esposito and Vladislav Tretiak, reached great heights, or the outcome could have been 10–10. Tretiak was making an unexpected start for the Soviets. The Soviets had planned to start Viktor Zinger, but he was reported to be ill before the game. The Soviets coach Bobrov complained about the refereeing and the play of Wayne Cashman, stating that “if that game had been played in Europe, he would have spent the whole game in the penalty box.”
Game four was played in Vancouver. Team Canada was surprised to find that the crowd booed Canada during the warm-up and cheered louder for the Soviets during the game’s introduction. The game started with two consecutive penalties by Bill Goldsworthy and Boris Mikhailov scored power play goals on both penalties to give the Soviets a 2–0 lead. Goldsworthy, who had started in place of Wayne Cashman, wanted to replace Cashman’s truculence, but only hurt his team and was criticized privately by Sinden.
In the second, Gilbert Perreault scored on a Soviet own-goal to get Canada within one goal, but Blinov scored less than a minute later to restore the two-goal lead. Rod Gilbert scored a questionable goal that was disallowed and Canada’s protests went unheeded. To Sinden, that was the turning point of the game, and the result could have been different had the goal been allowed, although Sinden admitted that it was “a beating.”
Vikulov scored to put the Soviets ahead 4–1 after two periods. In the third, Goldsworthy made partial amends to get Canada to 4–2, but Shadrin scored to put the game out of reach. Dennis Hull scored in the final minute to make it closer, but it was too late.
Sinden had changed the lineup and the Canadian goals were all scored by players Sinden had inserted in place of players who had played in Winnipeg. Still, Sinden felt that changing the lineup had been a mistake.
According to Sinden, Ken Dryden, who had replaced Tony Esposito, did not have a good game; he was shaky and Tretiak was great. According to Conacher, the Soviets used cross-ice passing in the attacking zone, a tactic that caused problems for Dryden. Serge Savard missed the game after fracturing his ankle in practice.
Team Canada was booed off the ice at game’s end. Responding to the negative public and media reaction in light of the expectation for an overwhelming Team Canada sweep of the series, Phil Esposito made an emotional outburst in a post-game interview:
“To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best, and to the people that boo us, geez, I’m really, all of us guys are really disheartened and we’re disillusioned, and we’re disappointed at some of the people. We cannot believe the bad press we’ve got, the booing we’ve gotten in our own buildings. If the Russians boo their players, the fans … Russians boo their players … Some of the Canadian fans—I’m not saying all of them, some of them booed us, then I’ll come back and I’ll apologize to each one of the Canadians, but I don’t think they will. I’m really, really … I’m really disappointed. I am completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps, we know, we’re trying like hell. I mean, we’re doing the best we can, and they got a good team, and let’s face facts. But it doesn’t mean that we’re not giving it our 150%, because we certainly are.I mean, the more – everyone of us guys, 35 guys that came out and played for Team Canada. We did it because we love our country, and not for any other reason, no other reason. They can throw the money, uh, for the pension fund out the window. They can throw anything they want out the window. We came because we love Canada. And even though we play in the United States, and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home, and that’s the only reason we come. And I don’t think it’s fair that we should be booed.
—Phil Esposito, in a post-game interview on national television
Brad Park and Frank Mahovlich also criticized the booing. According to Park: “We get nothing — not a dime for this. Brother, I’m sick”. Other players were more sanguine. Dryden didn’t lash out at the fans. “I’m disappointed, but I can understand it. The fans wanted us to do real good, and they’re frustrated we didn’t. I didn’t think I deserved to be booed. Tretiak frustrated us, but I guess I didn’t frustrate them enough.”
After the fourth game, the series went on a two-week hiatus. The Soviets returned to Russia and continued playing in an ice hockey tournament. The Canadians took a few days off, then travelled to Sweden for a pair of exhibition games before arriving in Moscow.
Team Canada arrived in Moscow for the final four games at the Luzhniki Ice Palace, accompanied by 3,000