Canada vs. Czechoslovakia
Sept. 30, 1972 at Prague 
Team Canada 3 - Czechoslovakia 3

An often forgotten about aspect of the 1972 Summit Series was the fact that Canada also played exhibition games against Sweden and Czechoslovakia. We've already covered the two games in Sweden, so let's take a closer look at the game vs. the Czechoslovakian national team.

The Game Story
This friendly game against the Czechoslovakian national team came just 48 hours after the dramatic Canadian victory in game 8 in Moscow. When they originally scheduled the match the Canadian organizers were probably figuring that Team Canada would have just dusted off the Soviets with ease and would celebrate by handily defeating the Czechoslovakians.

Nothing worked to plan - not even the results of the game in Prague.

The Czechoslovakians fell behind 2-0 in the first period but owned the second frame in which they knotted the score at 2. Just over 2 minutes into the final frame the Czechs scored a powerplay goal to take the lead. The lead held almost right until the very end - literally. With just 4 seconds left in the game, Team Canada continued to pull last second heroics out of their hat and refused to lose. In a set play off of a faceoff Serge Savard left his point position while defensive partner Brad Park fired the puck on goal. Savard banged in a loose puck a 19:56 to preserve a tie for the tired Canadian squad.

"After bailing out of defeat for the fourth time in a week in the final minutes, I must concede that old Lady Luck is all over me. i mean, lately she's really had a crush on old Harry J," wrote Sinden in his diary, later turned into a book called Hockey Showdown.

Hung over Canadian Team refuses to lose
Coach Harry Sinden had a tough task in this game when deciding who would play and who would not play. Originally he was going to with all of the players who did not play or played sparingly against the Soviets. That remained true for the most part, as players like Dale Tallon, Mickey Redmond, and Brian Glennie dressed and played. However the rest of team was selected using an odd format.

After coming from behind in such dramatic fashion against the Russians, you certainly couldn't blame Team Canada for wanting to celebrate. And celebrate they did. Champagne flowed and so did the beer. They partied in Moscow all the way to the airport, and continued to party on the plane to Prague. By the time the plane touched down, the team was a very weary squad - some desperately tired, others just passed right out!

Sinden jokes now that he picked the players for that game simply by looking at them prior to game time. If a player looked sober enough to stand up on his skates would play!

Special night for Mikita
There is no question that this night meant the most to Stan Mikita. 

Mikita was born in the former Czechoslovakia. As a young boy his birth family smuggled him out of the country because of the heightening political problems regarding communism. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle who years earlier emigrated to Canada.

 This game was very special for Stan (who's real name is  Stanislav Gvoth). He was named Team Canada captain for the game, and was able to play before his his parents and his brother and sister. He had visited his family many times once he could afford the expensive trip thanks to professional hockey, but had never performed in front of his family.

So special was this game and always-too-rare opportunity to see his family that Mikita actually left Team Canada before game 8 against the Soviets so that he could get some extra visiting time in.

See Stan Mikita's profile for a great story about how he watched game 8 against the Soviets with a bunch of Russian businessmen.

Kompalla ducked out of this game
After all the furor over the terrible refereeing by the West German officials, Josef Kompalla decided he didn't want to officiate this game as he was originally supposed to. Instead the game was refereed by three Czech countrymen. The set up was more familiar for Team Canada as they used the 1 referee and 2 linesman system (vs. the Soviet 2 referee and 0 linesmen). Coach Harry Sinden wrote in his book Hockey Showdown "(The refereeing) was better, despite some decided signs of patriotism on the part of the men in the striped shirts."

Thanks for the memories
Following the game, the players were eager to get on their plane and get back to Canada as soon as possible. However there was also a sombre feeling, as it finally sunk in that this team that had grown so close would never be together again. The dressing room was surprisingly quiet as players put away their gear. Out of the silence a player, believed to be - who else? - Phil Esposito began humming Bob Hope's theme song "Thanks for the memories." Soon the whole team was boisterously singing.

Coach Harry Sinden wrote in his book Hockey Showdown "It lacked quality but it had heart." Perhaps Sinden's words could have described the team in many aspects in that month of September besides their singing abilities.

The game almost never happened
Team Canada official Joe Kryczka claimed IIHF president Bunny Ahearne attempted to "blackmail" the game organizers out of a significant sum of money.

Kryczka claimed the IIHF would refused to sanction the game unless $5000 cash or half of any revenues realized over $55,000 (whichever was greater) was given to the Federation for television rights.

"What can you call that except blackmail," said Kryczka said in an Associated Press article back in 1972. 

He also said: "Ahearne threatened to bar the Czechs from the world championships, but that would bring the Russians down on him. Canada is out, the United States is in group B and without the Czechs - the World Champions - what sort of world championship would there be?"

With the help of the Canadian embassy in Prague the Czechs refused to give into Ahearne's demands.

Sept. 30, 1972 at Prague 
Team Canada 3 - Czechoslovakia 3
First Period:
1. Team Canada: Savard (Park) 8:19 PP
2. Team Canada: P. Mahovlich (Tallon) 13:55 
Penalties: Awrey (highsticking) 7:12, Stastny (high sticking) 7:12, Bubla (interference) 8:09, Goldsworthy (hooking) 9:26
Second Period:
3. Czechoslovakia: Stastny (Bubla) 9:02
4. Czechoslovakia: Stastny 15:24 PP
Penalties: D. Hull (tripping) 3:58, Redmond (charging) 9:26, Tallon (high sticking) 13:43, Mikita (cross checking) 16:57, Jaroslav Holik (elbowing) 16:57, Clarke (high sticking, Major) 20:00, Pospisil (elbowing) 20:00
Third Period:
5. Czechoslovakia: Kochta (Holecek) 2:28 PP
6. Team Canada: Savard (Clarke, Park) 19:56
Penalties: Hlinka (hooking) 4:42
Shots on goal:
Team Canada:  13    3    8  -  24
Czechoslovakia 12   12  9  -  33
Team Canada: Dryden (60 minutes, 3 goals against)
Czechoslovakia: Holecek, (60 minutes, 3 goals against)
Players on ice:
Team Canada: Park, P. Esposito, Goldsworthy, D. Hull, Cournoyer, Cashman, Seiling, P. Mahovlich, Mikita, Parise, Savard, Redmond, Awrey, F. Mahovlich, Clarke, Tallon, Dionne, Glennie
Czechoslovakia: Horesovsky, Machac, Jaroslav Holik, Pospisil, Kochta, Klapac, Martinec, Farda, Stastny, Nedomansky, Palecek, Bubla, Kuzela, Bednar, Jiri Holik, Hlinka, Brunclik, Holecek.


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