The Summit in 1974


PRESS ROOM 1974: Game 6


October 3, 1974

If you were writing up last night's sixth game in the series between Team Canada 74 and the Soviet Union's national hockey team for a police blotter - and it almost came to that by the end of it - you'd have to use a heading that read, "beaten and robbed."

That's what happened to the Canadians as the Russians won a wild one, 5-2 and took a stranglehold on the eight-game series. They lead now 4-2 in games with two ties and there are only two left to play - at the Luzhniki rink here tomorrow and Sunday nights.

This was shaping up as a tremendous hockey game at the 12-minute mark of the second period with the Russians leading 3-2 and Team Canada playing strongly after nearly being blown out of the rink in the first three minutes. But it all fell apart in the next 44 seconds on some strange refereeing by Russian Victor Dombrowski and Canada's chances went down the drain.

The Soviet official sent Mark Howe off for cross-checking Russian captain Boris Mikhailov at 12:22 for an infraction that had occurred a couple dozen times earlier without being called. Paul Henderson and Bruce MacGregor were sent out as the forwards to kill the penalty, and just 22 seconds later, Valeri Vasilyev and MacGregor came together on the side boards near the center red line.

Dombrowski had raised his hand signaling a penalty to Vasilyev, when the Russian defenceman dropped his gloves and began throwing punches at MacGregor.

"I saw him drop his gloves and I backed off", MacGregor said. "International rules say that the guy who throws the first punch gets a game misconduct and his team has to play short for 10 minutes. There was no sense my getting into it at all. The referee was right there."

Vasilyev closed with MacGregor and they grabbed onto each other. When they were separated, the referee sent each of them to the penalty box for five minutes, forgetting all about the two-minute one he'd called on Vasliyev just seconds earlier.

"I didn't even take my gloves off", MacGregor said. "It turned the whole thing around."

It did indeed. Instead of equalizing the manpower for the next minute and a half and then giving Canada a one-man advantage for better than 10 minutes, the double majors left the Russians still a man up on the ice.

With the 5-4 power play, they scored just over a minute later to widen their lead to 4-2 and all but bury Canada's hopes in Game Six.

The frustration with the refereeing mounted as the game went along - the totals on the night were four minors, one major, and two misconducts, for a total of 33 minutes for Canada, and two minors, and one major, or nine minutes for the Soviets - and when the final horn sounded, with the Russians in complete control, war broke out.

The participants were Rick Ley and Valeri Kharlamov, who scored a picture goal again last night. They started punching at the Canadian blue line, then fell to the ice with Ley on top, as the other players of both teams milled around. When order was restored - there had been another brief brawl between Paul Shmyr and Mikhailov, - Kharlamov had blood streaming down his face from an ugly gash near his eye.

‘The referees are so horrible, you get awfully frustrated," Ley said. "They're hooking, and punching, and spearing, but they get away with it and we don't."

"Kharlamov had his stick in my stomach a couple of times in the last minute. But you can't do anything during the game. But once it ended I figured I could. No, I wasn't looking for Kharlamov. He just happened to be the closest guy to me so I let him have it."

The Soviet crowd's whistling - their method of showing displeasure - reached a deafening shriek, as the players left the ice. Ten of the Russians went directly to their dressing room, refusing to shake hands with the Canadians who were in the lineup for the usual post game pleasantries.

At a press conference afterwards, Soviet coach Boris Kulagin said, "under the Soviet criminal code, Ley could be put in jail for 15 days. A person like that is persona non grata."

Team Canada coach Billy Harris, showing temper for the first time in the series he has deliberately tried to keep low key, snapped "Does the same law apply to Vasilyev in the second period?"

Answered Kulagin, "It's up to the referee during the game but after the game it is the criminal code."

A Russian reporter asked Harris why the Canadians with their vaunted hockey skills "have to play so dirty?"

Snapped Bill, "Are you kidding? According to my international rule book, Vasilyev should have got a minor and 10 minutes for fighting."

"It's too bad", he added, "because to that point it was a pretty good hockey game."

The Soviets had started out as if this was the night they were finally going to do what had been expected of them at the beginning of the series - bomb the World Hockey Association stars but good.

They had a goal in the first half-minute when Ley made a bad play inside his own blue line. Kharlamov stole the puck moved in and whipped it across to Mikhailov in the slot. He beat Gerry Cheevers easily with a high, hard wrist shot.

Marty Howe took a cheap elbowing penalty at the 53 second mark and the Soviet had another goal 10 seconds before he was due to return, Vasilyev making a tremendous rush down the left side, speeding around J.C. Tremblay and beating Cheevers with a flip shot from close range.

The Canadians at that point woke up and Serge Bernier who along with Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif formed Team Canada's best line, had two glorious scoring chances from right in front in the next minute or so. The first one hit the crossbar and bounced out of danger, the second capping a neat around-the-net passing play saw Tretiak make a spectacular pad save.

"That was the difference" Cheevers said afterward. I thought Tretiak's early saves when it was 2-0, gave them momentum. He made the saves at the right time and I didn't."

The Canadians kept coming however, playing their best hockey since the second game of the series a 4-1 win in Toronto, and they cut the Russian lead in half before the end of the period.

Tretiak made another good stop on Bernier, but the pressure continued and Shmyr blocked a clearing pass at the blue line. He took a low, hard slap shot from the point, and Houle standing about 15 feet in front of and to the left of the net, neatly deflected it up over Tretiak's pad.

The Canadians were still flying as the second period opened and tied it at 6:15, Gordie Howe tipping in a 40-footer by son Mark who got the puck right on his stick after an errant pass by Soviet defenceman Gennady Tsygankov.

The tie didn't last long however, the Russians taking a 3-2 lead just more than two minutes later on a neat passing play among linemates Viacheslav Anisin, Vladimir Vikulov, and Sergie Kapustin. The series of short, sharp passes gave Anisin a clear shot from about 15 feet out on the left side, and he made no mistake.

The Russians controlled the game in the third period, giving Canada few good scoring chances. Smith and Kharlamov went off for roughing at 10:54 ands then just as they stepped back on the ice, Vikulov, picking up his fourth assist in two games after sitting out in Canada - stickhandled though center ice, and hit Kharlamov with a perfect lead pass for the final score.

Harris said afterward that he hadn't considered taking the Canadians off the ice to protest the referee's decision on the MacGregor penalty. "I've been involved with international hockey for four years and I've learned to accept it when the referee takes control of the game."

(Missing paragraph here)

When it was all over, Harris had the last word. "We have to win two to tie the series", he said. "We can tie the series by winning two. And we'll try to win Saturday and we'll try to win Sunday."




The Summit in 1974