After an experiment with "My favorite sportsman" let’s return to the classic. Although I had many memorable games from my life as a sportsman, but, I think that it’s time to finish with nostalgia and return to the Big Sport.
The theme of this article was a little bit predictable. I wrote about favorite team and a favorite sportsman and now, I think, it’s time to tackle the root and say some words about what for these notions exist. Again, it' s hard to choose. I had a lot of favorite games during the 45 years of my life as a fan. Emotions, left by them, were extremely strong and not just in football, but in hockey either. That s why I'd try to touch all the hot buttons (there are no limits, by the way) and will describe four games. Two of them will be the games from the world 's hockey and football classic, one from the football of the times of USSR and the last one will be a regular game of CHL, which touched my soul so deeply, that I can call it the most memorable either. The participants of these games would be revealed later. Now I'd start from....
...from the hockey, from the game, which called one of the best if not the best game in hockey history. This game was played on the 31th of December in 1975, but in the USSR it was broadcasted on the 1st of January of 1976. Super Series 1975/76, Montreal, Forum, Montreal Canadians – CSKA.
I won’t tell a whole history of the beginning of the Soviet hockey, I' d only say that from the 1972, there was nothing better in the soviet hockey than the games between USSR and NHL. (WHA for some time). Super Series of 1972 and 1974 got their logical continuation as a tour of Soviet clubs CSKA and Soviet Wings in North America and their games against the teams of National Hockey League.
The team of professionals was a unique phenomenon for Canada. Even amateurs took part in the world championships ( in 1970 after the quarrel with WHL it was over.) The situation with the Olympic games was pretty the same, but professionals mostly took part in the NHL games. For them, chances to beat Russians were pretty high. It was a peak of the season and a series of home-court games. That what the heads of NHL were thinking, but...
…but the start of the Super Series of 75/76 had shown that soviet clubs came to win. CSKA defeated New York Rangers led by Phil Esposito in Madison Square Garden with a score of 7:3 and The Soviet Wings defeated Pittsburgh with a score of 7:4. There was some kind of cheating from the side of the USSR. There were players not only from CSKA. Maltsev and Vasiliev were from Dynamo, Solodukhin wasplaying for the SKA from Leningrad, and Yakushev and his team, who were in The Wings were actually playing in Spartak. It was said that it was done in the interests of the national team.
Let's dwell on the game, which I have been considering as a model of the hockey game since my childhood. I couldn't think in the other way. I saw that game only once and compared the childhood memories only in 2009 when I saw that legendary game in the Internet. I should thank Canadians for keeping the video from this game in such a good quality.
The childhood memories were quite tough. Montreal attacked fiercely in first two periods and would probably defeated USSR if Tretiak didn't stop them. I also remember a goal scored by Alexandrov and the fight in the third period. It was a tie, but I was glad as if it was a victory. Since that game Montreal became my favorite NHL club and Guy Lafleur became my favorite player. It was hard not to admire the players from NHL. Lafleur, Pete Mahovlich or Cournoyer were flying like a demons without their helmets. Shutt wore a funny hat, Lapointe, Savard and Robinson played great in defense, and tall Dryden got a lot of love from soviet fans because he had missed many goals from the soviet players.
Our players did great either. They could recoup after a score of 0:2 and 1:3. Each goal brought a flurry of emotions to me, a nine- year old boy. As I’ve said before, this game was like a model for me and I had been comparing all the hockey games which I’ve seen with that game.
I’ve tried to recall that game before. I’d read the hockey articles and the reviews of this game, but they were pretty boring. Then I’d read a book “Hockey Batalias” written by Dvortsov and couldn’t even imagine to watch this game again. There was no Internet and video tape recorders at that time. Gladly that I could see this historic game again.
I watched it 43 years ago in 2009. I was sitting (actually, lying) in front of TV, turn on the usb flash driver and watching the game. Unfortunately, there were no comments from Ozerov, but still I want to thank Canadians for their comments and for the color. A TV with a colorful picture was a dream in 1976.
Now, let’s focus on the game itself. Montreal had many Stanley Cups and CSKA had won USSR and European championships many times. So, this game was like so called "final" for the title of the world champion among the clubs. But there was a nuance. Montreal didn't have Stanley Cup, but they were some kind of famous dynasty of 1976-1979 on ice.
The CSKA numbers began from number 1. It was Adonin who was always in reserve. Gusev had number 2, Vasiliev had number 5, (it was unusual for me to see him in CSKA uniform) and number 8 was for Maltsev. Kharlamov and Tretiak had the biggest part of the ovations when they came out on the ice. There were a lot of hockey fans in Montreal, who loved, understood and appreciated the game. These fans were cheering for their native team much more passionately than for USSR. Lafleur, Pete Mahovlich and captain Vanya Cournoyer were their favorites.
Vyacheslav Koloskov (He was working in hockey those days) did the symbolic throw-in with Eagleson and the company watching. Mikhailov and Cournoyer shook their hands then the combat began.
USSR attacked and had their first throw. Mikhailov made Dryden worry. Montreal answered with Wilson’s breakthrough, but luckily for USSR they could defend their gates. Wilson earned his first penalty, but USSR didn't even have a chance to throw, although the legendary trio Mikhailov – Petrov – Kharlamov was on ice.
Steve Shutt opened the score when the time-board was showing 3.16. Number 22 from Canadians picked up the puck on the right flank and then threw it. Volchenkov couldn’t interfere and the puck, flying over of Tretiak’s shoulder, flew into the gates.
CSKA could not hold a puck during the first minutes. Canadians were pressing their attacks and attacked the gates of CSKA for the second time. Tretiak beat off the first throw to the side, but Vasiliev couldn’t repulse it and Lamber threw it into the gates. The score became 0:2 and the time was 7.25.
Does it ring a bell? There was a game on the 3rd of September in 1972 and the score was 0:2 almost at the same minute. Nowadays we know that these games had different scenarios and results.
CSKA became a leader only in the middle of the period. Here I found a first difference from the memories of my childhood. At that moment I understood, that Montreal wasn't pressing the whole first period. The game became equal after the second goal and CSKA had an advantage in some moments. Kharlamov and Mikhailov tried to attack the gates, successfully defeated by Dryden, Gusev tried to score a goal from the blue line, which was beat off again, Maltsev and Zhlutkov missed their chance from the advantageous situations. Then Cournoyer was removed, but, unfortunately CSKA couldn’t take the moment.
Zhlutkov was removed for two minutes and then the period was over. CSKA were losing with a score of 0:2, Montreal did great. I must admit that the game looks perfectly even nowadays with its incredibly high speed that you won' t find in the contemporary hockey games.
There was nobody to stop Pete Mahovlich from throwing a puck behind the gates, but Tretiak saved the team one more time. Then Wilson passed the puck to Robinson, who attacked. CSKA was messed up in the beginning.
Then Mikhailov scored a goal. That goal brought a new hope to the fans. Vasiliev passed the puck to the captain, he went straight, shifted to the center of the rink then attacked. Dryden reacted too slowly and the puck threw into the gates. The score became 1:2 when the time was 3.54.
Montreal understood that it will be a catastrophe, if Russians take the initiative. Mikhailov almost scored his second goal then Solodukhin lost the moment to settle the score and got a two-minute penalty.
It became very hot in front of the gates of the CSKA. Shutt, Lafleur and Mahovich were throwing the puck without stop, but Tretiak successfully beat theie throws off. Gusev was removed because of the step to Mahovich. Mikhailov, Tsygankov and Lutchenko were trying to keep Canadians off from the gates. Then Mikhailov was changed to Petrov but CSKA couldn’t take the attack any longer. Lafleur missed from a good position, the puck bounced off the gates’ bar and Cournoyer scored a goal. The score became 1:3 and the time was 9.39. The score was not so high for the hockey, but Montreal was extremely strong. In order to cheer soviet players, the organ played “Kalinka” and… it worked!
The first attempt to attack the gates, performed by the trio of Petrov didn’t have the results. Vasiliev threw the puck fiercely, but someone from Canadians caught it. Finally, Petrov crossed the blue line, shifted to the right and passed the puck to Valeri Kharlamov, who squeezed between two defenders, shifted to the right and threw the puck to the left corner.
The board with the throws were showing 21:7 in the end of the period. In was an unreal number for the CSKA, but their opponent was extremely strong. The score was 3: 2.
Once again, our team lost their advantage from the first minute of the period. Tretiak saved the gates after Gainey’s throw, Valeri Vasiliev was removed. Now I remembered why I thought that Montreal were constantly pressing. Lafleur, Lamber and Shutt had tried to score a goal for three times with an interval of one second. Tretiak missed the puck, but Gusev saved the gates. That very moment forced into my memory so deeply, that I thought that the whole game was like that.
First counterattack of the CSKA led to success. Tsugankov passed the puck to Zhlutkov, he went to the right flank. There was a defender in front of him followed by Alexandrov. Zhlutkov passed the puck to Alexandrov and Boris threw the puck into the gates. It looked amazing in dynamics. The score became 3:3!!!
The game continued and Montreal’s attacks were not so fierce like they were in first two periods, but still, Tretiak had a lot of work to do. Ironically, the most dangerous moment in this period was created by our team. Popov was in front of our gates and threw the puck to their side. Luckily, the puck hit the bar. Interesting, but I didn’t remember this moment when I was watching the game for the first time and read about that moment in Dvortsov’s book.
There also were some interesting moments with Cournoyer, Solodukhin, Mihkhailov and Shutt. Then the final buzzer came, the players shook hands. They were players of two great teams who shown a great hockey this evening. For Canadians it was an evening before the New Year and for us it was the first day of the New Year. Many players of CSKA will become an Olympic champions in February of 1976 on the Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Montreal Canadians will win a Stanley Cup in May and will win it in 1977,1978 and 1979, but it will be later. Now they didn’t even imagine that they had just played one of the greatest games in hockey history.
Tretiak, Pete Mahovich and Cournoyer were accepted as the beat players from this game. The picture of this trio is one of my favorite hockey pictures.
Now, here is the result. Could we say that this game was great when watching today? Definitely yes, because everything was great – the greatest teams with many titles, great players of the past, present and future from both sides of the ocean, a high quality of the game and even a tie define this game as a great one. I will repeat that the speed, the action and tactics have the highest level than can be valued even nowadays. If I could erase my own memory and watch this game one more time, I will definitely will be exited like when I was a child.
I didn’t insert the video from this game into the article, because I wanted to describe everything that I saw in words. Now, when I wrote the article I can say that I see each moment of this game as if it was yesterday. I see the throws of Shutt and Cournoyer, I see Lafleur flying to the gates, I see the throw of Mikhailov with Dryden trying to beat off the puck, I see the goal of Kharlamov, I see how Vasiliev saved Tretiak ( I don’t know why, but I don’t like the word “save” when describing historic games of the soviet teams), I see how Zluktov passed the puck to Boris Aleksandrov and his winning throw. Sadly, but I can’t return into the very days of January 1976 (((
31.12.1975. г. Montreal. Place "Montreal Forum". Super Series 1975/76.
Montreal Canadians: Kan Dryden (№ 29); John van Boxmeer (№ 2) — Guy Lapointe (№ 5), Serge Savard (№ 18) — Larry Robinson (№ 19), Don Awrey (№ 24) — Pier Bushar (№ 26); Jim Roberts (№ 6) — Dough Risebrough (№ 8) — Guy Lafleur (№ 10), Ivon Lambert (№ 11) — Mario Tremble (№ 14) — Jak Lemaire (№ 25), Ivan Cournoyer (к) (№ 12) — Pete Mahovlich (№ 20) —Murreau Wilson (№ 17), Steve Shutt (№ 22) —Bob Gainey (№ 23) — Dough Jarvis (№ 21). Michele Larok (reserved goalkeeper, № 1). Coach: Scotty Baumen.
Montreal Canadiens: Dryden; Van Boxmeer - Lapointe, Savard - Robinson, Awrey - Bouchard, Roberts - Risebrough - Lafleur, Lambert - Tremblay - Lemaire, Cournoyer - Wilson - Mahovlich, Shutt - Gainey - Jarvis.
MCRA: Vladislav Tretiak (№ 20); Valery Vasiliev (№ 5) — Alexander Gusev (№ 2), Vladimir Lutchenko (№ 3) — Gennady Tsygankov (№ 6), Victor Kuzkin (№ 4) — Alexei Volchenkov (№ 13); Boris Mikhailov (c) (№ 7) — Vladimir Petrov (№ 16) — Valery Kharlamov (№ 17), Vladimir Vikulov (№ 18) — Victor Zhluktov (№ 22) — Boris Alexandrov (№ 11), Vladimir Popov (№ 14) — Vyacheslav Solodukhin (№ 15) — Alexander Maltsev (№ 8).
The players who were announced, but didn’t participated: Sergey Glazov (№ 21), Alexander Volchkov (№ 9), Victor Kutergin (№ 10), Nikolai Adonin (reserver goalkeeper) (№ 1). Coaches: Konstantin Loktev and Veniamin Alexandrov.
1:0 - Shutt (P. Mahovlich, 3.16),
2:0 – Lamber (Risebrough, Savard, 7.25),
2:1 - Mikhailov (Vasiliev, 23.54),
3:1 - Cournoyer (Lafleur, Lemaire, 29.39, бол.),
3:2 - Kharlamov (Prtrov, Mikhailov, 36.21),
3:3 – Alexandrov (Zhluktov, Tsugankov, 44.04).
Removals : Wilson (0.38), Vasiliev (4.43), Cournoyer (16.33), Zhluktov (19.45), V. Solodukhin (27.38), Gusev (28.23), Savard (29.52), Vasiliev (40.27).
Goalkeepers: Dryden - Tretiak.
Throws: 38 (11+11+16) - 13 (4+3+6).
I would like to thank the forum of hockey statistics named after Victor Malevany for the statistic of the game and those who read that. I wish good health and luck!
P.S. There are some pictures of this legendary game for a dessert.