“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson made a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”
Those were the unforgettable words of Foster Hewitt calling the play-by-play of Paul Henderson’s game-winning goal in the Summit Series 50 years (and two days) ago.
I rarely write about nostalgia, but today I reflect on “the game” that occurred on September 28th, 1972.
For Canadian hockey fans that are old enough to remember, nothing in sports will ever compare to the thrill of when Henderson touched off an unparalleled wave of national pride.
He notched the historic goal with only 36 seconds left in game eight to give Canada a 6-5 victory over the Russians. It allowed Canada to escape with a 4-3-1 series triumph.
“I know I can die at any time. I’m not afraid. I try to live each day to the fullest.”
-On the 50th anniversary of his Summit Series winner, Paul Henderson discusses The Goal, the Soviets & his battle with cancerhttps://t.co/IqBiw4tlfV
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) September 28, 2022
I was a junior high school student in Winnipeg when that series took place. While I often joke my memory fails me as I get older, it is remarkable how much I remember about those eight games. I am able to recite more about game eight in that series than I can about any hockey game this year or any game period.
Prior to game one in Montreal, I was playing street hockey with friends when we decided to stop so we could watch the opener on TV. About half a dozen of us teenagers made predictions on the series. Five of the six were confident Canada would win all eight. I was considered the oddball because I told my buddies Canada would only win seven because they would take the Russian Bear lightly.
This may seem preposterous, but I actually thought game one would end up 7-3. So I had the score bang on, but like everybody else, I believed it would be 7-3 for Canada.
When Canada led 2-0 six minutes into the opening period, I phoned a friend and told him he was right. It was going to be a Russian massacre into double digits.
Just imagine what was going thru my mind when Russia tied the game 2-2 after one, took a 4-2 lead after two, and went on to kick “OUR” butts 7-3. For the record, I never refer to teams I cheer for as “us” or “we” however, this was the one exception. It was them, the Russians, against us, the Canadians. This wasn’t just hockey, this was about life. It was a political battle, our free world against their Communist society.
After the opener, I went to my room, refused to talk to any of my family members, and just stared at the walls with no light on in the bedroom. I asked myself many questions including: did Tretiak actually play better than Dryden in goal? How could Kharlamov, Yakushev, and Mikhailov skate circles around Awrey, Bergman, and Lapointe?
I felt a little better after game two and the 4-1 Canadian victory in Toronto but we all knew this was going to be a series like no other.
I was not lucky enough to get tickets for game three (a 4-4 tie) in my hometown as a lottery system was needed and my name never came up. Thankfully, there was no local blackout.
Game four (5-3 Canada loss) is when I gained a newfound respect for Phil Esposito who went on national television to lash out at the Vancouver fans that booed the Canadian players off the ice.
“To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best, and to the people that boo us, geez, I’m really, all of us guys are really disheartened and we’re disillusioned, and we’re disappointed at some of the people,” stated Esposito.
On this day in 1972, the Soviet Union defeated Canada 5-3 in Game 4 to take the lead in the Summit Series before the tournament shifted to Russia. Following the dispiriting loss, Phil Esposito made an impassioned speech to Canadians #Hockey365 pic.twitter.com/cMnnDTc44s
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) September 8, 2020
It looked bleak going to Russia, especially after the Russians took game five 5-4 erasing a 4-1 deficit.
Thank goodness Canada had the leadership of Esposito and the uncanny scoring of Henderson who notched the winner in game six (3-2), game seven (4-3), and game eight.
50 Years Ago Today Paul Henderson came off the bench to score with 34 seconds left to give Team Canada a 6-5 win over the Soviets and victory in the Summit Series 4 games to 3 with 1 tie. It was Paul’s third GWG in a row. Next day the Toronto Sun renamed itself ‘The Hendersun’ pic.twitter.com/LpSOpP9YCB
— Joe Pascucci (@Pascucci015) September 28, 2022
I still remember the audacity of the Russians who stated that if game eight was tied they would be declared the winner because of total goals.
50 years (and two days) ago, there was an unparalleled game in history when J.P. Parise nearly swung his stick at the incompetent referee, Josef Kompalla; Alan Eagleson was subdued by the Soviet police and was escorted across the ice by the coaches and Paul Henderson delivered a moment that will not be duplicated.
I am among many puzzled why the 79-year-old Henderson has not been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame even though he has been nominated in the past.
— Team Canada 1972 (@TeamCanada1972) September 22, 2022
His NHL (236 goals, 241 assists, 477 points in 707 games) and WHA numbers (140 goals, 143 assists, 283 points in 360 games) alone could be argued may not be worthy but Henderson deserves a coveted spot since quality is often more important than quantity.
In Canadian hockey terms, this “Paul” was clearly a “Saint”.
“If I am out in public, even 50 years later, people come up to me and they want to tell me where they were and what they were doing at that time,” said Paul Henderson, who scored the 1972 Summit Series winning goal against the Soviet Union. “It just hasn’t gone away.” pic.twitter.com/Puj0OxYltw
— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) September 22, 2022
Cat Scan podcast:
Prince George Cougars assistant coach Carter Rigby talks about his WHL playing days, including a brief stint in P.G., his role with the team, his previous ties with head coach Mark Lamb and the differences between coaching Junior B compared to Major Junior in this week’s Cat Scan podcast.
CAT SCAN: @Hartley_Miller chats with newly-hired @PGCougars assistant coach @RIGS94 formally of the @OsoyoosCoyotes in this week’s podcast episode
| https://t.co/TOxedTFRrQ #cityofpg #PrinceGeorge #northernbc #sports pic.twitter.com/hz9ZdZjSP0
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) September 29, 2022
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
A Las Vegas Raiders fan smacked Cardinals QB Kyler Murray in the face while Murray was celebrating his team’s 29-23 overtime win. Given the Raiders blew a 20-0 halftime lead, that might’ve been their only hit on the quarterback in the final two-plus quarters.
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
The last time anyone completely took over anything the way that Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray took over the final part of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders was when John Travolta took over the dance floor in ‘Saturday Night Fever.’
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
The NFL is cancelling the Pro Bowl. “What a shame,” said absolutely nobody.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
In Case You Missed It:
Saskatchewan backup quarterback Jake Dolegala was arrested and charged with DUI for operating a vehicle while legally intoxicated. Another Rider drive this season that ended badly.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He is entering his 10th season as the radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).