the 1972 Summit Series
Brought to you by Decisive-Action Sports
Game 7 - Soviet Union
4 - Canada 3
MOSCOW – Next time, they’ll be playin’ for all the marbles. Valery Kharlamov scored twice in the first period and the Soviets held off a late Canadian rally to preserve a 4-3 win.
The series is tied up 3-3-1 as the teams prepare for a Game 8 showdown.
“We were fortunate to win tonight,” Kharlamov said. “The Canadians refused to quit and they showed why they are elite.”
Team Canada coach Harry Sinden takes a more critical view of his team’s performance.
“Tonight’s game pretty much tells the story of the entire series,” he said. “Inconsistent play. I don’t think we’ve played three consecutive periods of hockey as well as we could have. It doesn’t matter if we play two periods well, but get killed in a third.”
In a game that was the tightest defensively played of the series to date, the Soviets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Aleksandr Yakushev got the first goal at 2:27. While being hooked from behind by Gary Bergman, he snapped off a shot that goalie Tony Esposito misplayed and squirted between his shoulder and the near post.
The Soviet power play made the score 2-0 at 6:01 when Kharlamov deflected Vladimir Petrov’s slap shot past Esposito.
The third goal, tallied at 14:35 was the most bizarre of the series. The Soviet’s top line of Kharlamov, Petrov, and Boris Mikhailov had a 3-on-2 break against defensemen Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard.
Petrov pulled the trigger on a long, rising slap shot that whistled over Esposito’s head. In a North American rink, the glass above the boards would have deadened the shot. Yet the wire mesh that surrounds the Soviet rinks provides a trampoline effect.
The puck rebounded past Esposito as he vainly swatted at it with his stick and came to Kharlamov, who fired it into the net before Esposito could recover.
“You can’t fault Tony for that one,” said his brother, Phil Esposito. “You talk about ‘home-ice advantage’ – this gives a new meaning. I don’t think the Russians outplayed us in the first period; they had some lucky bounces there.”
The Canadians did an effective of job of clogging the Soviet passing lanes and forcing turnovers. In the second period, they twice capitalized on mistakes and converted them into goals.
Phil Esposito scored an unassisted goal at 7:37 after anticipating a cross-ice pass at the Soviet blue line and intercepting it. He walked in on goalie Vladislav Tretiak and beat him low to the stick side.
“Frankly, Yvan [Cournoyer] should have been credited with an assist for forcing the pass,” Esposito said.
Rod Gilbert cut the Soviet lead to 3-2 at 11:14 after picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone. He skated into the Soviet zone with Dennis Hull trailing, faked a pass that froze both Tretiak and defenseman Aleksandr Ragulin, and then got off a quick wrist shot that clanged off the post and into the net to Tretiak’s stick side.
Although the Canadians were dictating the game tempo, the Soviets managed to add an insurance goal at 15:33 of the final period when Yuri Blinov fired a wrist shot through a screen that beat Tony Esposito.
Team Canada refused to admit the game was over. With 1:02 remaining in the game, Sinden called timeout during a play stoppage and pulled his goalie. On the ensuing face-off, Esposito won the draw and pulled the puck back to defenseman Bill White. White passed to Savard who one-timed it on net.
Tretiak made the save, but failed to contain the long rebound. Esposito blew past his defender and chipped the puck over the goalie’s outstretched arm into the goal with 55 seconds remaining.
Time expired before the Canadians could get another shot on goal.
“I was relieved to finally hear the buzzer announce the end of the game,” Tretiak said. “Had there been another minute or two remaining, who knows what might have happened.”
Please Note: While the above result and box score are supplied by incredible re-enactment game Classic Hockey by Decisive-Action Sports, the game write up is fictional