1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)
The last game, on September 28, was watched intently by the largest Canadian TV audience on record. It began with 2 quick Soviet goals, the ejection of a Canadian player, and a long delay as Canadians raged over the officiating.
Soviet teams had totally dominated international hockey for the previous 10 years, but this was the first time they played the best Canadian professionals. The series began amid great anticipation in Canada and the Soviet Union. The victory of the Soviets in the first game, September 2 in Montréal, by 7-3, stunned the Canadian players and shocked the Canadian public. The Soviets displayed speed, skill and a haughty disregard for Canadian confidence. The Canadians regrouped in Toronto 2 days later and won 4-1, but the third game in Winnipeg on September 6 was a 4-4 tie and Team Canada lost 5-3 in Vancouver, Sept 7, amid the jeers of the local fans. In Moscow September 22, the Soviets swept to another victory 5-4, but the Canadians fought back to tie the series with victories on September 24 (3-2) and September 26 (4-3).
The last game, on September 28, was watched intently by the largest Canadian TV audience on record. It began with 2 quick Soviet goals, the ejection of a Canadian player, and a long delay as Canadians raged over the officiating. The Soviets led 5-3 at the end of the second period, but Phil Esposito and Yvan Cournoyer tied the game. Paul Henderson scored the most famous goal in hockey history, with only 34 seconds remaining, to win the series for Canada. The team played one more match, against Czechoslovakia, a 3-3 tie, before returning home to an outpouring of pride and relief.
On the surface, the series was a dramatic sports event - in retrospect won by determined athletes against the odds. But the series affected Canadians more deeply. Their cherished myth of hockey superiority had been shattered.