34 Seconds To Eternity
Almost any Canadian who is old enough can tell you exactly what he or she was doing on September 28, 1972, when Paul Henderson scored the 6-5 goal at 19:26 of the final period. For a second, our world stood still, and then as the red light flickered behind Vladislav Tretiak, our hearts filled with joy, and relief.
"Here's a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and falls," Foster Hewitt breathlessly described. "Here's another shot. Right in front. They Score!! Henderson has scored for Canada!"
As Foster Hewitt's ghostly words described the "goal heard around the world," millions of Canadians danced and hugged in a scene that was reminiscent of the celebrations at the end of World War II. Never has a single sporting moment meant so much to so many Canadians a sense of unparalleled nationalism.
The whole country stood still on September 28th, 1972. Game 8, our best vs. their best. It was supposed to be a blow-out for Canada, but it didn't happen that way. In fact Canada's most memorable moment was almost one to forget.
Children watched the game in classrooms and gymnasiums at school; studies were put off for the day. Adults watched from work or took the day off; This was more important.
Paul Henderson's goal sealed a remarkable comeback victory over a Soviet squad that had pushed Canada to the brink of defeat. Of course, none of this was supposed to happen. Team Canada was composed of the NHL's greatest stars, and were expected to easily defeat their communist counterparts. The success of the Soviets stunned Canadians, who had always unquestioningly believed in their country's hockey supremacy.
Team Canada restored the faith of fans by fighting back to win the final 3 games of the series, all on game winning goals by Paul Henderson. Henderson was a talented but unspectacular left winger who was the unlikeliest of heroes. Unlikely heroes have come to define Canadian hockey.
"I found myself with the puck in front of the net," remembers Henderson. "Tretiak made one stop and the puck came right back to me. There was room under him, so I poked the puck through."
"When I saw it go in, I just went bonkers." Millions of thrilled and extremely relieved Canadians went bonkers as well.
Thirty years later, Canadians are still going bonkers about the series. Russians too have equally fond although often different memories about the clash at the top of the hockey world three decades ago.