Russian ice hockey stars of the past have beaten their Team World rivals, 7-5, in an exhibition game commemorating the legendary 1972 Canada-USSR series. However, that was definitely not the point at the packed Megasport arena in Moscow.
The eight historic games at the height of the Cold War may have been played in September 1972, but celebrations are already underway with Moscow taking center stage on Saturday – the Russian capital hosted a match between the Soviet star veterans and North American and European stars of the past.
The Russians, enhanced by three Superseries participants, Vladislav Tretyak, who playing in defense this time, as well as Vladimir Lutchenko and Aleksandr Yakushev, got the better, outscoring their opponents 7-5. The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure claimed a hat-trick, while Andrey Kovalenko, Valery Kamensky, Vyacheslav Fetisov and son of the legendary Soviet forward Valery Kharlamov, Aleksandr, also made their contribution.
Dave McLlwain, Glenn Anderson, Ron Duguay, Cliff Ronning and Greg Adams put their names on the scoreboard for Team World, symbolically coached by Phil Esposito, who was captain of the Canadian contingent back in 1972, and his Soviet nemesis Boris Mikhailov and his teammate Vladimir Petrov.
Earlier on Friday, some of the participants were warmly welcomed by the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his residence in Novo-Ogarevo, before holding a master-class at Moscow's Red Suare.
“Regardless of all the tension, these games contributed to establishing more human, more normal relations between people,” Putin said addressing his guests.
Though the series was “viewed through the prism of international relations,” but rose above politics to bring West and East together and would live long in the memory, Putin said.
“The ’72 series was absolutely one of the most brilliant events in world hockey in the 20th century,” the prime minister said, before adding: “The main thing isn’t the points. You were all such bright stars that continue to shine not only on the hockey landscape, but also on sport as a whole.”
Esposito, the joint top point-scorer in the Summit Series alongside Aleksandr Yakushev, said that the series was the best he ever played.
“We thought it would just be an all-star game, that’s nothing serious, just playing for the crowd, but it was the hardest and best series of my life,” he recalled.
“You played with all your passion, and we gave it everything,” the Canadian said adressing his former opponents.
The next round of celebration is schedule for September in Canada.