One of Canada’s most endearing sports teams — the 1972 Team Canada hockey team — was unveiled today as one of the 10 Canada 150 stamps that will be issued Thursday, June 1.
On September 28, 1972, millions of Canadians watched as Team Canada defeated the Soviet national hockey team in Game 8 of the Summit Series, also known as the Soviet-Canada series.
Team Canada beat the odds, overcoming an early two-goal deficit, the game was tied at 5-5. Canada scored the thrilling winning goal with just 34 seconds left in the third period. The stamp shows Canadian forward Paul Henderson celebrating his game-winning and series-clinching goal against the Soviet team.
The stamp was unveiled today in a ceremony in Winnipeg with many surviving members of the team on hand.
Several factors made this a special hockey series.
It was still the Cold War, so political tensions ran high.
Canada, once dominant in Olympic Games (Canada won the first four gold medals, plus 1948 and 1952, had been knocked off the podium with the Soviets taking three straight gold medals, 1964 through 1972.
And, this was the first competition between the Soviet national team and a Canadian team represented by professional players of the National Hockey League.
Harry Sinden chose the 35-player Team Canada, which included captains, Phil Esposito, Frank Mahovlich, Stan Mikita, and Jean Ratelle. The Soviets had a 31-player team, which included many Olympic champions.
The Soviets won three of the first five games, with Canada winning one and other being a tie. Canada won games six and seven, each by one goal, setting the stage for the thrilling Game 8, the series being tied 3-3-1. With the first four games played in Canada, the finale was staged on Soviet home ice in Moscow.
Henderson, who scored the winning goal, had just hopped onto the ice and said, “I jumped on the ice and rushed straight for their net. I had this strange feeling that I could score the winning goal.”
The team and its players received many honors over the years, including the first team to be inducted en masse into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. Speaking at that induction in 2005, Team Canada 72 member Phil Esposito said, “A lot of people will go back and say 1972 changed the face of the game and actually I believe it did. I’m not so sure it changed for the better, by the way. But it did change the way we think and look at hockey in this country.”