Sunday, September 13, 2009
Following on the astounding success and drama of the 1972 Summit Series, there was a second Summit Series in 1974, followed by the formation of the Canada Cup Tournament, first held in 1976, which featured not only Canada and the Soviet Union, but also Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United States.
The second edition of the 1981 Canada Cup was held with the same six teams as in 1976. The tournament was conducted in a round-robin format, meaning each team would play all the other teams once each, with the top four advancing to the semifinals with the winners meeting in what was now a winner-take-all single game final, which replaced the 1976 edition's best-of-three finals.
The Finns were outclassed, finishing 0-4-1, scoring just six goals in five games and being shut out twice. Sweden fared a little better at 1-4-0, thanks to their 5-0 victory over Finland. The USA completed the round-robin portion at 2-2-1, while the Czechs came in at 2-1-2, and made the semi-final playoffs versus the Soviet Union (3-1-1). Canada finished atop the standings with a 4-0-1 record after defeating the Soviet Union 7-3, drawing the fourth place United States in the semi-finals.
The Soviet Union then advanced with a 4-1 defeat of the Czechs and Canada took care of business against the USA, also by a score of 4-1, setting up the final pairing that everyone wanted to see.
The Soviets had famously lost to the United States at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, so they were hungry to re-establish their position at the top of the hockey world in 1981. With Vladislav Tretiak now in goal, rather than Vladimir Myshkin who was in net against Canada in the final round robin game, the Soviets were looking to turn the tables when it counted the most.
Canada dominated the first period, outshooting the Soviets 12-4, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, as Tretiak held firm and the period ended with no score. The teams traded goals in just over three minutes apart in the first half of the second period and then the Soviets started to pull away, with a pair of goals from Sergei Shepelev at 11:15 and 16:28, giving them a 3-1 lead after two.
Shepelev completed a natural hat trick early in the third followed by Vladimir Krutov scoring shorthanded four minutes in and the rout was on. Igor Larionov would score his second at 16:00 and Canada would allow two more goals in the final minute and a half and Tretiak and the Soviets had now done what few teams were ever able to do, keeping Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur scoreless, and cruised to an 8-1 victory to reassert their position on top of the hockey world.
Viktor Zhluktov celebrates the Soviet Union’s win
in the 1981 Canada Cup final
Perhaps Canada was overconfident heading into the final based on their dominant win against the Soviets in their round robin game, or perhaps the Soviets, knowing they would advance to the semi-finals regardless of the outcome, took the opportunity to conserve some energy and gain a matchup against rivals Czechoslovakia, but regardless, the dominance of the Soviets left little doubt as to who was the better team on the day.
Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet Union Viacheslav Fetisov jersey. The jersey is dye-sublimated, with only the addition of the "K" for "Kaptain" being sewn on. This style jersey, with the diamonds inside the waist stripe, was also worn in the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1980 Olympics.
This jersey features the name on the back in Cyrillic, while the the Soviets actually used English names in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cups held in North America.
Here are all the goals scored during the championship final game between the Soviet Union and Team Canada. Notice the names on the back vary in size and font between several of the players, with the smaller font being the one used in the 1980 Olympics, so perhaps those jerseys were being worn again.
Our final video is an interesting story concerning the Canada Cup trophy which is not widely known.