the 1972 Summit Series
Brought to you by Decisive-Action Sports
Game Vs. Czechoslovakia
PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia – In the aftermath of Team Canada’s upset in the second game in Sweden, alternate captain Phil Esposito challenged his teammates in the dressing room to “show some guts” in the final tune-up before the Summit Series resumes.
Leading by example, Esposito tallied four goals including three in the third period as Canada twice came from behind to defeat the Czechs 5-4.
The win also seemed to restore some of Ken Dryden’s confidence after the Game 2 loss in Sweden.
Team Canada may be getting used to the wider ice surfaces, but they are having problems toning down their physical style in the face of more stringent officiating. They gave the Czechs seven power play opportunities, but only one was converted.
A combination of bad penalties and jet lag hampered the Canadians in the first period. After Phil Esposito scored at 1:29 to give Team Canada the early lead, the Czechs stormed back with three goals.
Jaroslav Holik tied the game at 2:23 while the Canadians appeared to have let their guard down. Holik took a pass from Josef Horesovsky, blew past Bill White, then snapped a wrist shot from 15 feet that beat Dryden to his stick-side lower corner.
The intense Czech forechecking led to a second goal at 6:52. The pressure of the opposing forwards forced Brad Park into making a bad pass into the neutral zone that was picked off by Milan Novy.
Novy connected a lead pass to Vaclav Nedomansky who had a 2-on-1 break against Park. When the Canadian defenseman moved forward to challenge, Nedomansky feathered a drop pass to the trailing Ivan Hlinka, who blistered a slap shot over Dryden’s glove hand.
Exactly 30 seconds later, the Czechs were on their third man-advantage when Bobby Clarke got two minutes for slashing. Jiri Kochta one-timed Bedrich Brunclik’s setup pass and the puck caromed into the net off of Canadian defenseman Gary Bergman to give Czechoslovakia a 3-1 lead at 9:10.
When the first period buzzer sounded, Canada had also been outgunned 18-8 in shots.
“I told the boys that it was too soon to panic,” Sinden said. “They had come out against us with guns blazing, but I didn’t think they could keep up that kind of a pace for three periods.”
Team Canada clawed back into the game at 7:15 of the second period when Jean Ratelle tipped in a long blast by Dennis Hull. The goal changed the momentum and the Canadians began to get the better of the play.
Phil Esposito tied the game just :27 into the third period. Using his superior size and reach, Esposito was able to outmuscle his defensive shadow to get to a loose puck, then stuff it between Jiri Holocek’s pads.
The Czechs managed to take back the lead at 3:14 when Richard Farda intercepted a pass from Dennis Hull and raced into the Canadian end on a breakaway. Dryden moved out to cut down the angle, Farda managed to slip a wrist shot from an angle that just beat the goalie.
“After that goal, I was determined that we weren’t going to lose tonight,” Esposito said afterward. “Not after what we had been through and had battled back.”
After the goal, the Czech offense became tentative. The Canadians rallied and took control of the game.
Esposito knotted the game 4-4 at 10:17 when he beat Holocek with a wrist shot to the near post.
The Czechs were showing signs of fatigue and unable to counter the Canadian pressure, being out shot 18-2 for the final 20 minutes.
Esposito scored his fourth goal of the game – and the game winner – at 14:42 on a 3-on-2 break. Skating down the left wing, he took a lead pass from Frank Mahovlich in stride. Holocek slid across his crease with pads stacked, but Esposito softly lifted the puck over the fallen body and into the net.
The Czechs almost tied the score in the final nine seconds. With the play stopped on account of icing, Holocek left the ice for the extra skater.
On the ensuing face-off to Dryden’s left, Hlinka won the draw and moved the puck back to Franticek Pospisk who fired a long slap shot from the point. The puck whistled through a screen and clanged off the post to Dryden’s right and deflected into the corner.
An eternity later, the final buzzer sounded.
“It was too close for comfort, but a miss is a miss,” said Dryden.
With the exhibition slate complete, Sinden can now concentrate on matching lines against the Soviets in Moscow in the upcoming Game 5 on Sept. 22.
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