Team Canada 1972
Area of Recognition: Sport
This year marks the 40th anniversary of what is arguably one of the most important sporting events in Canadian history. In September 1972, Team Canada and Team USSR took part in the Summit Series between the best hockey powers in the world. The Summit Series was the first competition between the Soviet and an NHL-inclusive Canadian national ice hockey team. Most Canadians expected the series to be a one-sided win for the NHL's best professionals. At that time, the Soviets had dominated World and Olympic play since 1962, but they were only amateurs. For years, the best amateur teams in Canada were easily able to win World Championships and Olympic gold medals, but by the 1960s this was no longer true. Canada's top amateur clubs found themselves unable to compete with the Soviet Union and other top European countries. The International Ice Hockey Federation denied them the use of professional players, and as such, Canada withdrew from international competition in 1970. Canadian fans were longing to see a series that would pit their best professionals against the best the Soviets had to offer. In September of 1972, they got their wish!
This epic eight-game series has become one of the most fascinating sports spectacles of the 20th century. On September 28, 1972, Paul Henderson scored the series-clinching goal against goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. Canada won the series four games to three with one tie, instantly igniting widespread nationalism and pride.
The overall success of the series has lead to the creation of the Canada Cup in 1976 and has since been succeeded by the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. The team as a whole was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of fame in 2005. For the 35th anniversary of the series, Canadian and Russian junior teams competed in the 2007 Super Series and the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge.