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The Russians hold Canada to a Draw

September 6

Game 3 — (filing from Winnipeg)

After Canada’s 7-3 humiliation at the hands of the Soviet Union Saturday, coach Harry Sinden decided to introduce some muscle into Canada’s second game line-up in Toronto Monday. Sinden turned in particular to bruising Boston Bruin winger Wayne Cashman, who wields his “Northland” stick like a spear and his elbows like hydraulic door braces. With Soviet skaters looking for Cashman over their shoulders, Canada skated to a 4-1 win. Smiled Sinden after: “You may have noticed they didn’t have their arms around us so much this game.” Ditto for game three.

Canada 4- Russia 4

Coach Bobrov made several changes of his own Wednesday night. Benching five regulars, Bobrov produced a “Kid Line” — all 21-years-old — whose only previous claim to fame was leading a student team to a championship at Lake Placid last February.

The rested kids were the difference. They scored two goals — including the goal that tried the match at 4-4 — and managed to lure Cashman into a costly penalty late in the game. That happened when 21-year-old Alexander Bodunov decked “Cash” against the boards. Breathing fire, Cashman rose and slayed defenceman Yuri Shatalov on the hand with his stick in retaliation. When the referee waved Cashman to the cooler for two minutes, the winger turned his abuse on the official. The searing simply meant that Cashman was through for the night, with a 10 minute misconduct (at the time less than 10 minutes remained in the third period). With the Canadians missing an able corner man and digger, the Soviets managed to save a tie – a moral victory.

Once again it was a game of fine goaltending and superb individual play. Tony Esposito stopped 25 shots in all, including a great chest-pad save in the last 13 seconds off Alexander Maltsev. For his part, 20-year-old Vladislav Tretiak committed icelane robbery several times, stopping 38 Canadian shots. In the last period, for example, Canadian forward Paul Henderson stood all alone in front of Tretiak with the puck. As the pros are trained, Henderson gave Tretiak a ‘deke’, then lifted a point blank shot toward the net. “The man who wasn’t supposed to have a glove,” as Sinden described Tretiak, flashed out his right hand, and smothered the Henderson drive neatly.

As they did in game one, team Canada opened the scoring early Wednesday night and were leading 2-1 after the first period. They proved what their game was all about. First defensemen Gary Bergman , then Henderson, then forward Ron Ellis unleashed savage, but legal, body checks. The rattled Russians watched as New York Ranger star Jean Ratelle scored the second goal. With less than seven minutes left in the second period, Canada had a 4-2 lead on goals by Phil Esposito and Henderson. But then they felt the wrath of the Kid Line. Within four minutes, Yuri Lebedev and Bodunov had tied the game.

After the game Sinden sighed: “Aren’t we all lucky to be alive to watch a game like that. Wee. It was a 4-4 tie, that’s the way I read it.” Could the series result in a review of the way hockey is played in this country? Replied Sinden: “I think it will. I think it should. Who told us we knew all about hockey, except ourselves? They’ve got some good ideas. I haven’t seen much wrong with most things they do.”

The Soviets, who profess simply to be in Canada to learn, apparently took a slightly different angle. Coach Bobrov stressed that his Kid Line was getting its first real significant test. Naming several experienced pros who didn’t make the trip to Canada, Bobrov vowed: “The games in Moscow should be more difficult.” As for Sinden, he was thinking only of Friday night’s game in Vancouver. “Each game,” he said, “is a monumental task in itself. We are not even thinking about Moscow yet.” With that, Sinden headed for his hotel, some scotch and much contemplation.

Robert Lewis

Twelve years in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, former Editor-in-Chief at Maclean's, author "Power, Prime Ministers and the Press" (2018, Dundurn; available as audiobook).


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