50 Years Ago in Hockey: Russians Blank Canadians Without Top Line

The touring Russian national hockey team encountered little resistance as they shut out Canada’s national team 4-0 last night at Treasure Island Gardens in London, Ontario.

First Line Sits Out

Venjamin Alexandrov
Venjamin Alexandrov

In the first of an eight-game exhibition tour of Canada, the visitors opted to play the first game against the host team by sitting out the three players considered to make up their top line. Konstantin Loktev, Alexander Almetov and Venjamin Alexandrov watched from the comfort of the stands as the Russians operated like the well-oiled hockey machine they are.

Canada lost this game in the second period when they surrendered three goals to the Russians.

After a scoreless first period in which the Russians appeared to be trying to find their stride after the long overseas flight, Viktor Popupanov opened the scoring at 1:11 of the second stanza. Popupanov beat Canadian goalie Wayne Stephenson with a wicked 20-footer and that would be all the offense the visitors would need.

Vladimir Brezhnev scored the second Russian marker when his long shot was deflected into the Canadian goal by Terry O’Malley. Their third goal, by Vitaly Davydov, was scored on a similar play, deflected by a Canadian.

Vyacheslav Starshinov scored the only goal of the final frame when he slipped a quick wrist shot between Stephenson’s pads.

The Russian team featured some new tactics heretofore unseen against Canada. Instead of sticking to set plays and patterns in a more conservative style, they now use a more flexible attack, not unlike the better NHL teams. Their game is now based on speed, stickhandling, passing and flawless hockey fundamentals. It would appear they have learned their hockey lessons well.

Wayne Stephenson
Wayne Stephenson

Canada’s best players were Rick McCann, a forward from Hamilton, Ontario and goalie Stephenson.

Another Canadian, forward Roger Bourbonnais, attracted the attention of Russian coach Anatoli Tarasov. He called Bourbonnais a headhunter.

“I am not used to speaking about best players. But I will speak of your worst – number 14, Bourbonnais.

“Bourbonnais is still hunting today. His ugly behaviour on the field was not noticed by the referee and we consider this a crime. If this happened in Russian the penalty would be life suspension.”

Tarasov was apparently referring to the Canadian forward’s treatment of Davydov. In last spring’s world championships, Bourbonnais tangled with the Russian and broke his jaw. Last night, the two met once again and in this encounter, Davydov and his helmet parted company thanks to a high hit by Bourbonnais. The Canadian was not penalized on the play.

Hall Stars for Hornets

Murray Hall
Murray Hall

Murray Hall had a hand in all three Pittsburgh goals as the Hornets edged the Cleveland Barons 3-2 last night in Cleveland in one of three American Hockey League games. In the other two matches, Rochester outscored Providence 7-4 and Vancouver of the Western Hockey League lost to the Buffalo Bisons 4-2 in an interlocking game at Buffalo.

Hall led the Hornets to their win with two goals and an assist on the third Pittsburgh goal by Norm Beaudin. Bob Ellett and Joe Szura replied for the Barons. Fred Glover, released from hospital earlier in the day after undergoing knee surgery, made a surprise appearance behind the bench for Cleveland. His presence did provide a spark for the Barons, but goalie George Gardner had a big game for Pittsburgh and kept the Barons from tying the game up late.

At Providence, Dick Gamble and Gerry Ehman each scored two goals to lead the Amerks past the Reds. Brian Conacher, Larry Jeffrey and Duane Rupp also scored for Rochester. Willie Marshall was a two-goal man for the Reds, with Doug Senior and Bob Leduc adding singles.

The Bisons handed Vancouver their fourth loss in a row in Buffalo. Alain Caron scored twice for the hosts, including the game-winner. Pat Hannigan had a three-point night as he scored once and added two assists. Gerry Ouellette had the other Buffalo tally.

Bruce Carmichael and Bob Kabel were the Canucks marksmen.

Orr Nets Game-winner for Generals

Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr

Defenseman Bobby Orr scored the game winning goal with just less than five minutes remaining in the game to give the Oshawa Generals a 5-4 win over the Niagara Falls Flyers in one of two OHA Junior A games last night. Kitchener Rangers whipped the London National 5-0 in the other contest, played at Kitchener.

Orr had two goals to lead the Generals against the Flyers. Danny O’Shea, Barry Wilkins and Brian Morenz had the other Oshawa scores. For Niagara Falls, it was Tom Webster, Rick Ley, Derek Sanderson and Gilles Marotte.

At Kitchener, John Beechy was the scoring hero for the Rangers with three goals. Ken Gratton and Bob Jones connected for the others.

Goalie Bullpen?

With the National Hockey League teams now dressing two puckstoppers for every game, can it be long before those clubs employ a system similar to that in baseball where the starter is relieved by another pitcher if things don’t go well? Red Burnett of the Toronto Star examined the possibility with several NHL goaltenders.

Glenn Hall would jump at the chance to have "relief goalies".
Glenn Hall would jump at the chance to have “relief goalies”.

Glenn Hall, the veteran of the Chicago Black Hawks says he would welcome such a system. Hall’s stance on the matter is not surprising. He has often said he loves everything about hockey except for the games.

Boston’s rookie goalie Gerry Cheevers wouldn’t like being pulled in favour of another netminder.

“We tried it one night after Detroit put three past Bernie in the first period. It wasn’t such a hot idea, they put seven behind me in the next two periods.

“I think yanking a goalie in the middle of a game might wreck his confidence.”

The oldest goalie in the NHL, Toronto’s Johnny Bower, concurs with Cheevers’ view.

“I know it wouldn’t bother Hall, but it would knock heck out of my confidence.”

Toronto coach Punch Imlach said that he had considered removing Bower in favour of Sawchuk in a game earlier in the season, but dismissed the notion. He felt the move might shatter Bower’s confidence. Imlach was clear on how he will deal with goalies in the future:

“I think you have to start a goalkeeper and stick with him. I don’t think you’ll see us juggle goalkeepers the way they juggle pitchers.”

Former Maple Leaf forward Harry Watson disagrees with Imlach and Bower. He says if a goalie is having a bad night, there is nothing wrong with benching him just the same as a coach would with a left winger who’s having a poor game.


Bill Goldsworthy
Bill Goldsworthy
  • Boston defenseman Ted Green has been out of the Bruins lineup for over two weeks with a severe case of the flu. He isn’t expected back any time soon.
  • Bruins are without forward Forbes Kennedy, out with a shoulder separation, but defensemen Leo Boivin and Al Langlois have returned from their injuries.
  • Bill Goldsworthy, who played for Niagara Falls Flyers last year, is up with the Bruins and coach Milt Schmidt is very happy with the youngster’s play.
  • Detroit and Boston have been talking trade for over a month. Red Wings are interested in Bruins captain Leo Boivin while the Bruins are desperate for a centre.