Sports are not my writing “niche.”
I know enough about hockey, football, baseball, soccer, tennis and golf to get by, and that’s good enough for me.
In my second semester of first year journalism, one of our instructors taught us about covering beats, like music, entertainment, business and yes, sports.
As a class we watched the Canada vs. USSR 1972 Summit Series hockey game, and were told to write about what the game meant.
I’m quite proud of the piece I wrote, and decided to post it on my blog.
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They weren’t just playing hockey.
With 34 seconds left in the third period of the eighth game, the Soviets played for acceptance and validation while the Canadians played for freedom, patriotism and identity in the USSR vs. Canada 1972 Summit Series hockey game.
It was a mental, athletic and historic battle fought with sticks instead of guns that pitted democracy and communism against one another in an epitomic ideological war.
And that is why it mattered.
Canada’s win was reclamation of Canadian identity and a confirmation that Canadian life was a successful way of life, a sense of validation that lingers to this day.
“It was a war, our society vs. theirs,” said Phil Esposito, Team Canada’s undisputed leader throughout the series, according to www.1972summitseries.com.
In fact, it mattered so much, that on Sept. 28, Canadian society essentially shut down to watch Game 8, the tiebreaker game being played in Moscow, the final game.
Each side had won three games respectively and had tied one: the game itself and everything it stood for relied on Game 8.
The Summit On Ice 30th Anniversary DVD released in 2002 documented the series.
“[But] it wasn’t just another series. It was the series,” said Canadian Frank Mahovlich on the DVD that captures the events now entrenched as an iconic part of Canadian history.
“It turned out to be more than just a hockey series. A lot of pride came into play — pride in yourself, pride in your team, pride in your country,” said Ed Johnston, one of Canada’s goal tenders, according to www.1972summitseries.com.
And pride for your identity.
Teamwork, determination and independence were what Canada stood for, elements accentuated by the game and thus components of a lifestyle that were put on the line, a solid red line.
Canada’s struggle over the decades for victory in the Olympics and the failure to reclaim her world title made the game a game of redemption.
Because only amateurs were allowed to play in the Olympics and professional Soviet players were considered amateurs, Canadian players were constantly put at a disadvantage.
But that didn’t matter this time.
With 34 seconds left in the third period of the eighth game, what commentator Foster Hewitt described as “the goal heard around the world” put an end to the Summit Series.
What may have been a conclusion was a rebirth to others and, as Canadian player Guy Lapointe put it, an unforgettable moment.
“Who says nothing lasts forever? This series will.”
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