1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Goal
The Canadians battled with the ferocity and intensity of a cornered animal.
--Soviet coach Anatoli Tarasov
In the 60s and 70s the European teams, especially the Soviets, came to dominate amateur hockey, a sport that previously had been a strictly Canadian domain. In the Olympics, the Soviets could stack its team with elite players while in Canada elite players were excluded as at that time only amateur athletes could compete in the Olympics. As such Canadians disregarded these amateur defeats as empty foreign victories because everyone knew that Canada’s best weren’t playing. The Soviets sought to break what they saw as the “Invincible Canadian” myth and so the 1972 Summit Series, officially named The Friendship Series was born. Pitting the best of both nations against each other, the summit was to be played in arenas of both countries to see who was really the number one in Hockey. It was in the final of the series that Frank Lennon snapped this iconic picture, taken just after the “goal heard around the world”.
Most people in the professional hockey league and most Canadians thought that the series would be an easy victory for Team Canada. The idea that high-level hockey was played outside of North America, was a concept that the hockey establishment could not comprehend. They were in for a rude awakening when on Game 1, Sept. 2, 1972, the Soviets surprised everyone by crushing the Canadians, 7-3 in Montreal. Holding on by their fingertips the Canadians were able to snatch a few wins out of the jaws of the Soviet Hockey machine but by game 5 the Soviets lead by 2. Amazingly and to the relief of Canada, the Canucks were able to come back winning the next 2 on the Soviet ice.
Game 8, the final, was held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Arena. Each team had three wins and three losses, in addition to a tie, game three resulted in a 4-4 tie. Only a win in Game Eight would deliver victory in the series. The score was 2-2 after the first period, but the Soviets pulled ahead 5-3 after the second. Things looked grim for Team Canada but in the third, they came out roaring with Phil Esposito and Yvan Cournoyer scoring to even it up. At that point, with the score tied 5-5 and the series tied 3-3-1, a member of the Soviet delegation unexpectedly informed Canada that, if the score and the series remained tied, the Soviets would claim victory as throughout the series they had scored the most goals.
Then, with just 34 seconds remaining in the game, Paul Henderson in perhaps the most famous moment in Canadian sports history scored! Jamming in a rebound behind Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak Henderson’s goal became known as “the goal heard around the world”. Team Canada held out for the next 30sec to win the final and the series.
The last game I was so tired because I played all eight games. Ken Dryden played four games and Tony Esposito played four games, but I played all eight games. It was bad luck for me. On the last goal, Yvan Cournoyer gave a pass to Paul Henderson. Henderson shot at me, I made the save, but the second time he scored on me. Unbelievable. –Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak
He scored on me. Unbelievable
--Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak
Frank Lennon came to the Soviet games as part of the official Canadian fan contingent of over 3000 people. As the last seconds of Game 8 ticked down Lennon knew if the Canadians were to win they would score in the last then. As the timer counted down Lennon snuck down to the rink edge and choosing the spot that he thought most likely to get a good picture of the winning goal, focused his camera on the Soviet net. He was not disappointed and on film caught one of the greatest moments in Canadian sporting history. Henderson later talked to Lennon and remembered that, “Everybody around him jumped up and (Lennon) would (later) say to me that he was amazed he had the presence of mind to keep shooting … Everything within him wanted to jump up and shout.”
The picture earned Lennon numerous awards including, a National Newspaper Award, Canadian Press Picture of the Year and even ‘Sports Picture of the Century’ by one magazine. His paper, The Toronto Star, gave him a bonus for shooting the picture and through a mistake at the syndication department also allowed him to copyright the picture. The picture became hugely popular and Lennon who now owned the copyright got royalties from the shot. Frank continued working at the Toronto Star until he retired in 1990. Once in 1969 Frank Lennon was assaulted by John Lennon, after following the Beatle member into the Toronto airport in an effort to get an photo. Frank died on August 21, 2006 at the age of 79.
In 1972, nobody lost ... Who won? Hockey won
--Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak
Most of Canada shut down that day to watch the game. Workers called in sick and schools herded their students into gyms to listen or watch the series final. As the clock clicked down most feared the worst but when Henderson scored the Country erupted in celebration. Henderson’s mother who was watching the game from her home in Lucknow, Ont. said “When Paul scored that goal it was like an atom bomb going off”. While the country exploded around her Mrs Henderson, to celebrate, sat down and had a cup of tea.
While the Canadians were overjoyed at winning the series the Hockey establishment saw that European hockey had caught up to the Canadian game. The almost defeat at the hands of the Soviet team saw the Team Canada get a complete overall in their training regime. Where before they would meet only a few weeks before playing now they met months before to start training and getting back to shape. The NHL teams also had their eyes opened. Before the series having a European player was unthinkable but now they saw a real talent pool across the Atlantic. Tretiak who went on to become a goal tending coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, believes: “In 1972, nobody lost. Everybody won. Now we could see that the best players in Russian could play with the NHL. It opened the door for the European players in the NHL today. Now, it’s the best league in the world. Who won? Hockey won.”
The eight-game series consisted of four games in Canada and four games in the Soviet Union, all of them held in the Moscow’s Palace of Sports, Lenin Central Stadium.
|Team||Score||Team||Score||City and Venue|
|Game 1||USSR||7||Canada||3||Montreal (Montreal Forum)|
|Game 2||Canada||4||USSR||1||Toronto (Maple Leaf Gardens)|
|Game 3||Canada||4||USSR||4||Winnipeg (Winnipeg Arena)|
|Game 4||USSR||5||Canada||3||Vancouver (Pacific Coliseum)|
|Game 5||USSR||5||Canada||4||Moscow (*Luzhniki Arena)|
|Game 6||Canada||3||USSR||2||Moscow (*Luzhniki Arena)|
|Game 7||Canada||4||USSR||3||Moscow (*Luzhniki Arena)|
|Game 8||Canada||6||USSR||5||Moscow (*Luzhniki Arena)|
*Luzhniki Arena used to be known in 1972 as the, Palace of Sports, Lenin Central Stadium