Russian’s national hockey machine (and make no mistake, their club is exactly that) embarrassed the Canadian National Hockey Team yesterday by blanking them 4-0 in an exhibition game at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Russians put on a display of precision and skill, and dominated the Canadians in every facet of the game. They skated faster, shot harder and applied the body more efficiently. Their physical prowess was somewhat surprising.
The Canadian team, assembled under the guidance of Father David Bauer, is a project aimed at restoring Canada’s standing in International Hockey. It’s a club made up of former pros like Gary Aldcorn, university students and senior players. It proved to be no match for the superbly conditioned full-time hockeyists from the Soviet Union. This was the second victory in two tries for the Russians on their eight-game Canadian tour. They defeated the Montreal Junior Canadiens, and OHA team augmented with six professionals from the AHL Quebec Aces, 3-2 Friday evening in Montreal.
The Russians grabbed a 2-0 first period lead on goals 20 seconds apart by Vyacheslav Starshinov and Yevgeny Mayorov. Juri Jakushev upped the lead to 3-0 with just seven seconds left in the middle frame. Starshinov put the icing on the cake with the fourth Russian marker with about eight and a half minutes remaining.
To be fair to the Canadians, the club facing the Russians yesterday is not the full national squad. Defencemen Paul Conlin and Barry McKenzie, along with goaltender Ken Broderick were unavailable due to exams being written at the University of British Columbia. Brian Conacher was out with a knee injury, and former Toronto Marlboro Grant Moore was also writing exams at the University of Toronto.
Canadian coach Gord Simpson was realistic in assessing the result, and also took a shot at the shortcomings of the national team program:
“We’re going to have to drill quite a bit yet if we’re to beat the Russians. I think we have the material. But all national team players should be stationed in one locale, and not scattered about the country.”
The game was played under international rules, but Simpson said that was not a factor. “It was the Russian pattern that upset us, not the rules. We’ve played our last 18 games under these rules, but never with a set lineup.”
“These Russians can fly, they can bump, they’re agile, they set up their plays well and they’re well-built. And I was disappointed in our inability to put the puck in the net. We had chances early in the game and missed, and they didn’t give us many after that. We hope to get films of the game and study them.”
The early chances Simpson referred to were great scoring opportunities for Ross Parke and Gary Begg. They were denied by sensational saves from Russian netminder Viktor Konovalenko. Konovalenko was injured in the first period and replaced by Viktor Tolmachev at the beginning of the second, but the Russians didn’t miss a beat.