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This Date in NHL History

Sept. 2: Soviet Union wins Summit Series opener

Plus: Hall of Famer Sather born; Canada Cup begins in 1976

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor


1972: The Soviet Union shocks Canada 7-3 at the Montreal Forum in the first game of the Summit Series.

Most hockey observers in North America expect the first series between the Soviets, who are technically amateurs, and the first all-professional team to represent Canada, to end in a Canadian victory; many predict an eight-game sweep. Those predictions look to be on the mark when Phil Esposito scores 30 seconds into the game and Paul Henderson makes it 2-0 at 6:32.

But the Soviets soon get over their nervousness, tie the game 2-2 before the end of the period and take a 4-2 lead when Valeri Kharlamov scores twice in the second.

Bobby Clarke scores for Canada at 8:32 of the third period to make it 4-3 and give the fans at the Forum some hope, but the Soviets score three goals to complete the unexpected victory.



1943: Glen Sather is born in High River, Alberta. Sather plays 10 seasons in the NHL and one in the World Hockey Association, but makes his real impact on hockey as a coach and executive, building the Edmonton Oilers into a team that wins the Stanley Cup five times in seven seasons from 1984-90. With Wayne Gretzky leading the way, the Oilers set NHL records for goals scored that haven't been approached. Sather is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. He goes on to become president and general manager of the New York Rangers in 2000 and also serves two brief stints as coach.


1967: The Hockey Hall of Fame inducts its newest members, Longtime Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Turk Broda, a five-time Stanley Cup winner; New York Rangers defenseman Neil Colville, forward Harry Oliver, and referee Red Storey.


1976: The Canada Cup, hockey's first true best-on-best championship tournament, begins when Canada defeats Finland 11-2 in Ottawa. The event allows any player to represent his country, regardless of whether he's a pro or an amateur. It also marks a return to international competition for Canada after a six-year boycott of the IIHF.

Canada's opening night roster includes two players who aren't part of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Bobby Hull, who is ruled ineligible after leaving the NHL for the World Hockey Association in the summer of 1972, scores two goals against Finland. Bobby Orr, who sits out the series against the Soviets because of knee problems, has three assists.

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