This Esposito was important contributor, too

Tony Esposito was supposed to be the backup in this tournament. It is certainly arguable that "Tony O" was better than Ken Dryden.

The Chicago Blackhawks standout was clearly deserving of inclusion - coming off of a National Hockey League leading 9 shutouts and 1.77 goals against average, as well as his third consecutive 30-plus win season.

Tony had the benefit of watching the Soviets from the comfort of the bench in game one. The Soviets destroyed the overconfident Canadians in that opening game in Montreal. Goalie Ken Dryden was especially victimized. It was ultimately the first time most of the Canadian players had seen the Soviets in action, including goalies Dryden and Esposito. Esposito believes he found success in the series because he was able to dissect the Soviet attack while on the bench in game one. And it showed in games two and three when Esposito played well for the most part.

Esposito was very solid in nets in game two, as he allowed only 1 goal as Team Canada regained its composure in a 4-1 win in Toronto. Game three in Winnipeg was an equally played game as suggested by the 4-4 final score. Despite the high score Tony O played well in this game for the most part, but allowed one weak goal by Yuri Lebedev which cost Canada a precious victory.

Tony O was pulled for game 4 but returned for game 5. With 11 minutes to play Canada held a 4-1 lead, but ended up losing 5-4. Tony couldn't be blamed for the victory - in fact he was named as one of the game's stars - but blowing a 3 goal lead in such a crucial game is inexcusable.

Tony returned for game 7, and won the essential game 4-3 with a 28 save performance. Tony would call that game his best of the series.

The Canadian coaching staff must have debated long and hard about their goaltending situation for game 8. Ultimately they went with the man who was supposed to be the number one guy as Ken Dryden got the nod. Dryden won the game.

1972 Summit Player Profile
 Team Canada
 #35 -  Tony Esposito - Goaltender

Position: G
Catches: Right
Height: 5-11
Weight: 185
Born: 4/23/1943 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
1972 NHL Team: Chicago Black Hawks

Summit Series Statistics

4 2 1 1 3.25 0 .882

Other Team Canada Appearances

Tony joined his brother Phil in the 1977 World Championships, posting a 6-2-1 record with 1 shutout and a 3.17 goals against average.

Esposito used his dual citizenship to play against Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup as a member of Team USA.

NHL Career Notes - Esposito was one of the top goalies in the 1970s despite playing for an at-times average Chicago team.

Best known for setting the modern NHL shutout record with 15 in 1969-70, Tony O's Hall of Fame career also boasts six All Star nominations, three Vezina trophies (2 shared) and the Calder Trophy.

Career NHL Statistics
Regular Season 886 423 306 151 2.92
NHL Playoffs  99 45 53 6 3.07


Book Feature
Read Tony Esposito's memories of the Summit Series in Team Canada 1972: Where Are They Now?  By Brian McFarlane $21.26 Cdn


Special Offers

1972 Summit Series Games

Game One
Game Two
Game Three
Game Four
Game Five
Game Six
Game Seven
Game Eight

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Canada's Team of the Century