Game 8 – C’mon Canada

Game eight. A game that almost didn’t happen because both sides couldn’t agree on which two referees would suit up. The Russians, of course, lobbied for both Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader, the two West Germans who heavily sucked up to the Russians, probably in search of future Olympic and World Championship gigs in which Russia held a weighty voice. Canada’s choices were a Swede, Uve Dahlberg, with their second being Czech Rudy Batja.

Thus, in the 11th hour it was decided that Kompalla and Dahlberg would handle the duties, until Dahlberg allegedly fell ill with food-poisoning. So then it became Kompalla and Batja.

However which way you slice it, the officiating situation was a mess.

And so it began, with Ken Dryden in nets after Tony Esposito had performed well two nights prior in Canada’s 4-3 win.  It was a game of wonderful and breathtaking hockey, with weirdness thrown in, including J.P. Parise blowing a fuse when he was assessed an interference call in which Kompalla waved it off and then Batja called it anyway. Parise complained, was given a ten-minute misconduct, and in a fit of rage skated to Kompalla with his stick raised, as if to chop the poor bugger’s head off. Needless to say, Parise took an early shower.

Both teams, in glorious fashion, went back and forth, with players coming close as the goalies held their ground time and time again. Phil Esposito roamed about and made the Soviets nervous. Alexander Yakushev continued to give Dryden fits, and the first period ended at two apiece, which seemed rightly so. Every inch had been fought for. JP Parise watched from the sidelines in his street clothes.

In the second, Russia took the lead, Bill White tied it, but then Russia scored two and it was 5-3 when 40 minutes had expired. Could Canada actually come back in the third period and win this? It didn’t look good. It was a two-goal Soviet lead, and a two-referee Soviet advantage. I can’t remember if I had any booze around or not, but surely I needed it.

But just two and a half minutes into the final frame, Esposito whacked one home, and at 12:56, Yvan Cournoyer tied it. A country jumping for joy, until we noticed a commotion from the penalty box area and wondered if we should be happy or not.

It turned out that the goal judge decided not to put the red light on when Cournoyer scored, prompting Alan Eagleson to freak out and be restrained by soldiers who began to lead him away, maybe to a train bound for Siberia. But Pete Mahovlich came to the rescue, others followed, and the Eagle was taken to the safety of the free world, otherwise known as the Canadian bench. But not before he got in a couple of one-finger salutes to the despicable goal judge.

Back and forth players went and the clock clicked down, which was fine with the Soviets. They had decided that they would claim victory in case of a tie, considering they had scored one more in total goals during the eight games. This couldn’t happen. We could not witness a smug, smiling and celebratory Soviet contingent, not after clawing back over a period of several games, and then having them claim victory on a technicality. A tie would be like kissing Leonid Brezhnev’s wife, or Leonid Brezhnev.

And then it happened, and maybe I should let good old Foster Hewitt take you home.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot, right in front. THEY SCORE! HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA!”

Yes he did, with 34 seconds remaining. And a nation rejoiced.

7 thoughts on “Game 8 – C’mon Canada”

  1. Thank you so much Dennis for this entire game-by-game synopsis with photos and video. Most people only remember Paul Henderson in that series for his dramatic Game 8 winner, but in truth, for those of us who ‘were there’ , he was our hero on Russian ice tallying three game winners. Paul Henderson, arguably saved Canadian hockey. Why he is not in the Hall of Fame is really a disgrace. With all due respect, if our female hockey greats can be inducted, with in reality a skill-set commensurate with boys midget AA or AAA level, just because they won Olympic gold medals for Canada, in comparison, what Paul Henderson did for Canadian hockey is completely beyond the pale.
    By the way. do you remember the battle cry back here in Toronto that the Leafs should try to get Bobby Clarke from Philly because he played so well with Henderson and Ron Ellis on that incredible line? I wonder how the Leafs might have fared going forward had such a trade been accomplished.


  2. Thanks Joel. I don’t remember Torontonians talking about the idea of Clarke on the Leafs, but that sure was a great line for Team Canada. I was thinking the other night that I also seem to recall that the name “Team Canada” was used for the first time during that series. Before that, it was only the Canadian National Team that played in international hockey. So Team Canada may be part of our every day vocabulary now, but it began in ’72. I have other stories related to that series that I could have reposted but I thought enough’s enough. Thanks again Joel.

  3. DK, you’ve out done yourself! What a great eight posts about an historic time in Canadian sports history. Just by reading I was pulled back in time & found myself sitting in front of the TV on the edge of my seat! Job done extremely well, thank you for the memories!!!!!

  4. Hello. Hope all is well in Powell River. And any other place your readers hang their hats. So what’s the the lame brain reasoning with Andrew Shaw’s ’76 Philly mentality? Gutless, stupid, press box seat warmer for 10 games—–from Bergy—– over and above what the league may give him. And his teammates approve!!!! How to open doors for the Habs to get a pounding this year. Hab-land sure cries if that hit comes our way..Play tough, play hard, play fast—– but cut that crap!!!!!

  5. Peter, I was travelling and didn’t see the Shaw thing. I need to find some footage of this. We want toughness and grit, but not stupidity from these guys. Shaw adds some important stuff, but in the past he’s shown that he can be out of line. And it’s a fine line. I need to find this and see what he did.

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