September is Team Canada Month
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September should be recognized as a month that changed the face of hockey around the world forever. Heritage Hockey remembers, and continues to share, the history of the game. The games were strategically played in the off-season, so as not to affect regular season play! It was September 1972, when the first “Team Canada” hit the ice. A team comprised of NHL’ers who would take on the Soviet Union in an international series dubbed, “The Summit Series”. Eight games, that played out across Canada and then in the Soviet Union. A nail biting series that would pit country against country, right down to the final 34 seconds of the 8thand final game! Canada, would claim victory over the Soviets, with a last ditch effort by Paul Henderson, who not only scored the winning goal in the final game, but also scored the winning goals in games 6 and 7 as well. Paul Henderson and Phil Esposito would share the series M.V.P. title.
The Summit Series would play out again in 1974 with players from both the NHL and WHA going up against the top players from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union would win the series with four wins, 3 ties and one loss to the Canadians.
The two Summit Series’ sparked such an interest in International Play, that the Canada Cup was introduced in 1976, and would play on through 1991.
1976 – Canada won over Czechoslvakia (M.V.P. – Bobby Orr)
1981 – The Soviets would win the series (M.V.P. – Vladislav Tretiak)
1984 – Canada would overtake Sweden in the series (M.V.P. – John Tonelli)
1987 – Canada would once again dominate the Soviets (M.V.P. – Bill Ranford)
And in the final series of the Canada Cup (which would be replaced by the World Cup of Hockey in 1991) Canada would beat the United States in the first all North American final of the renowned series.
The face of hockey was changed forever after that first series. International players came into the NHL. The world of hockey would be changed forever. And…the “Goal of the Century” would, 45 years later, be recognized as the number one sports moment in Canada’s first 150 years!
And that’s why, the Heritage Hockey Insider….loves hockey!
BIRTHDAYS THIS MONTH:
The month of September celebrates some of the greats in hockey history! A big Heritage Hockey Insider’s “HAPPY BIRTHDAY: goes out to :
JOHN FERGUSON, September 5, 1938 (deceased: John was the Assistant Coach in the ’72 Summit Series)
JOE NIEUWENDYK September 10, 1966 (although invited to play in the 1991 Canada Cup, Joe suffered a knee injury and was unable to play)
DARRYL SITTLER, September 18, 1950 (Darryl actually played babysitter to the Henderson children during the 1972 Summit Series and subsequently went on to score the winning goal on an open net in the 1976 Canada Cup series)
GUY LAFLEUR, September 20, 1951 (Guy played on Canada’s Dream Line alongside hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and Gilbert Perrault. Perrault’s injury, later in the series was said to have cost the Canadian’s the series)
GRANT FUHR, September 28, 1962 (Grant was a goaltender on Team Canada in 1987)
Follow the Heritage Hockey Insider as we take a look at famed hockey rivalries!