Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quebec Nordiques Thrash Red Army, 26 years ago today.

December 28, 1985. The Nordiques of Quebec convincingly beat the touring Soviet Red Army squad by a score of 5-1. This was the third game of the 1986 Super Series tour for the Russians and they had previously beaten Los Angeles Kings 5-2 and the Edmonton Oilers 6-3.

Critics were saying that the Super Series had lost some of it's lustre and this was shown in the fact that Le Colisee in Quebec was a few hundred short of a sell out. In fact the Nordiques had to offer a two-for-one promotion, selling 3,000 tickets on the last weekend before the game. Nevertheless, Quebec provided a satisfying outcome for the home crowd on the strength of a hat-trick from Michel Goulet and the adequate, if largely un-tested goaltending of Clint Malarchuk.

The match didn't open up until halfway through the first period when Goulet deflected a Randy Moller shot past goalie Sergei Mylnikov. Three minutes later, while shorthanded, John Anderson outraced Slava Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov to score on a breakaway. The teams traded goals by Goulet and Sergei Makarov in the middle frame as Quebec opted for defence over offense managing a mere three shots on goal. Goulet completed the hat-trick on a pass from Anton Stastny with a low wrister five minutes into the third. Brent Ashton finished the scoring late to make it 5-1, one of the worst defeats administered to the Red Army in ten years of Super Series play. Buffalo Sabres had beaten them 6-1 in January of 1980.

Red Army assistant coach, Boris Mikhalov said after the game,"Quebec has a better defence than the Edmonton Oilers. Quebec stopped our power play, did a lot of other things that prevented us from playing our game. They played a near perfect hockey game." Malarchuk stopped 22 shots while Mylnikov stopped only 12 of 17 shot at him. The Quebec goaltender explained his sucess, "You have to wait when they have the puck because they shoot at the last moment. You have to stay on your feet and be patient." Red Army would take out their frustrations on the Montreal Canadiens two days later, beating them 6-1.

Mylnikov, who was on loan for the tour from Traktor Chelyabinsk would of course lead the Soviets in the 1987 Canada Cup and played every game in winning the Olympic Gold medal at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. The Nordiques drafted him in the seventh round in 1989 and he would play 10 NHL games for them the following year. He posted a 1-7-2 record with a 4.96 GAA and returned to Russia the following year. He played until his mid-30s, finishing in the Swedish third Division with a team named Saters IF in 1994/95.

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