Thursday, January 9, 2014

Team Canada vs. Soviets 1984 Pre-Olympic Tour, Part 1

Exactly 30 years ago this week, the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team was engaged in a ten game exhibition series against the Soviets that took place right across the country. The team of amateurs assembled under coach Dave King early in the summer of 1983 for try-outs. By the end of August, 49 original players were chopped down to 26 and they headed to Sweden for a six game tour. Canada had a record of 3-2-1 on this trip before returning home to play NHL teams in pre-season.

The amateurs held their own with a respectable 2-3-2 record against the big league clubs including 6-3 victories over Minnesota and Winnipeg. Next came an eleven game series against the Americans in which Canada went 5-2-4 followed by games against minor-pro clubs and a trip to Moscow for the Izvestia tournament that took them to Christmas (they lost all four games in Moscow).

Starting on December 27, 1983, the Nats would play ten games over fourteen days against a Soviet "B" squad made up of mainly members of the Spartak squad in the Russian league. I have distinct memories of watching a few of these games that were televised nationally and remember getting excited about a 20-year old goaltender from Thetford Mines, Quebec named Mario Gosselin.

Game 1
Dec. 27, 1983 at Edmonton
Soviets 4, Canada 3
"I think they maybe took a few things for granted after seeing us in the Izvestia tournament," said coach Dave King. Canada had lost 8-1 to the Soviet National team the week prior. Leading scorer Pat Flatley missed this game with a shoulder injury but Canada took a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Gord Sherven's second marker. Victor Shalmov had the Soviets in the first and they notched three straight in the second by Victor Skurdyuk and a pair from Mikhail Varnakov (who would play for the Soviet team in the upcoming Canada Cup '84). Dave Tippett made cut it to 4-3 early in the third but Canada could not beat 30-year old Victor Doroschenko of Spartak for the equalizer.

Game 2
Dec 29, 1983 at Calgary
Soviets 4, Canada 2
"We outshot them 12-4 in the first period and when you outshoot a team like that you should be ahead," said Canadian defenceman Bruce Driver. The 1-1 score on goals by Vladimir Lavrentiev and Mark Morrison after the first became a 2-1 lead for Canada early in the second when defenceman Doug Lidster's 40-foot slap shot beat Doroschenko. Less than two minutes later however, Sergei Pryakhin handcuffed Canadian goaltender Mario Gosselin before 15,295 spectators. Pryakhin would later become the first Russian player allowed to leave to play in the NHL when he suited up for Calgary Flames in 1988. The Soviets got the winner early in the third on a sharp-angled wrist shot by Alexander Menchenkov before Lavrentiev put it away with just over three minutes remaining.

Game 3
Dec. 30, 1983 at Vancouver
Soviets 4, Canada 3
Vladimir Golikov, veteran of two Canada Cups, the Challenge Cup five World Champioships and an Olympicsgave the Soviets a 4-3 lead in the third period. Canada outshot the Soviets 33-32 before 8,393 fans at the Pacific Coliseum but still lacked the goal scoring punch to earn victory over the Soviets and their goaltender Doroschenko.

Game 4
Dec. 31, 1983 at Calgary
Soviets 7, Canada 2
Alexander Orlov, Sergei Kharin and Mikhail Varnakov scored in the first period and Victor Loginov and Yuri Vozhakov in the second made it 5-0 Soviets by the period's end. 12, 469 fans saw the teams trade two each in the third on goals by Vozhakov and Loginov again and Dan  Wood and Dave Tippett for Canada,

Game 5
Jan. 2, 1983 at Winnipeg
Soviets 7, Canada 6
Victor Skurdyuk scored the winner with 2:37 remaining handing Canada it's fifth straight loss to the Soviets. Canada actually held a 3-0 lead early in the game but the Soviets continually pecked away at goalie Darren Eliot to lead 4-3 after two periods before 6, 815 spectators at Winnipeg Arena. Teams traded three goals each in the final frame but Canada still dropped it's overall season record to 16-22-9. Goals were scored by Pryakhin, Yuri Vozhakov, Evgeny Shtepe, Victor Loginov, Sergei Giamaev and Sergei Kharin. Canada's tallies were from Warren Anderson, Doug Lidster, Dave Donnelly, Mike Ridley and Darren Lowe with two.

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