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The Classic 1972 Summit Series Essay

The 1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series was perhaps the most dramatic sports event in Canadian history. Before the series came into being, the Soviet’s demonstrated that they were a tower of strength by winning 11 of 12 Olympic and World Championships from 1963 to 1973. However, Canadians believed that the Soviets would lose to Canadian professionals. The 1972 Super Series was the opportunity for Canada’s “best” to prove their dominance over the Soviets. Charles Hay (President Hockey Canada 1972) was quoted by saying, “At long last we are challenging the Soviets with a team of Canada’s best hockey players, and share with all Canadians our pride in being represented by this superb group of young men playing our national game.” This series would put the Soviet “amateurs” against Canada’s professionals. It has made a huge part of history in Canadian hockey and will be remembered for years to come.

The spectacular series consisted of an eight game series with four games being played in Canada and four games in Moscow. Unfortunately, the Soviets came out of Canada with a slight lead in the series and headed back to Moscow for the next four games with home advantage. After losing the first game in Moscow, this put Canada in a tough position to win the next 3 games to win the series. Brian McFarlane from Hockey Night in Canada quoted, “I still feel Team Canada has superior individual players. Their collective experience, and more than that their pride, will push them to victory. But they must not take foolish penalties. Fast line changes and consistent fore checking are the keys, especially against players like Kharlamov and Petrov.

I think we’ll hold a slight edge when it’s all over.” The Canadians did in fact win it and that is why this incredible series played by two great teams made it such a memorable event. How could people forget the great goaltending Vladislav Tretiak provided for the Soviets! Or even the vicious slash that Bobby Clarke laid on the Soviets star player Valeriy Kharmalov’s ankle! Also who could forget Phil Esposito threatening the referee with his stick! One memory that will never be forgotten would have to be when the Canadian players had to rescue Alan Eagleson from the unruly Soviet fans! All of these special moments that happened during the series assisted in making this event a special classic.

This 1972 Super Series was and still is a classic. Similar to a classic novel or movie, people remember the ending. Paul Henderson’s winning goal ended the eighth game winning the series for Canada. This made him a national hero. There are other examples that made this a classic series. Recently, the media took advantage of this series and made a special TV series about it. There is also a DVD made to promote the 1972 series. The one main thing that makes it a classic is that people still talk about it 35 years later just like it happened yesterday.

When one thinks of great international hockey, conversation usually comes up about the 1972 Super Series between Canada and the USSR. Charles Hay’s quote in the introduction paragraph talks about how Canadians had high expectations for the players that represented Canada. Canada did win the series, but it brought on a high respect for Soviet hockey that was not there before. The 1972 series was an electrifying spectacle ever to unfold in Canadian arenas and got countless millions to watch the two countries battle it out.

This series created an intense rivalry between Canada and Russia, which is still present to this day. Recently, the Canada/Russia rivalry continued with an eight game series between the best junior players from each country. There was an attempt to replicate the classic 1972 series, but the hype was just not there and most likely never will be. The Canadians won this series quite handily. As people had high expectations for the 1972 team to dominate the Russians, the 2007 team showed great skill and that they were the better team. Everyone knows that the 1972 Super Series is a classic, and always will be a great classic.


1. Littler, H. (1974). 1974 Canada Vs Russia. Toronto:C.A.H.A. Services.

2. 1972 Summit Series. (1972). Hockey Canada:C.A.H.A. Services.

3. Marsh, J. (1985). In The Canadian Encyclopedia (vol. 2, pp. 823-824).

Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers Ltd.

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