A Shining Moment in the History of Canada Essay Example

  • Category: Sports, Sports games,
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1323
  • Published: 06 September 2020
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The identity of a nation is formulated by its culture, a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group (Zimmerman 2017). These patterns are found in various facets of Canada’s culture including the scenic nature that surrounds us, our kindness towards others, and our love of hockey. Hockey was crafted in the harsh climate of Nova Scotia around 1800 (“Origin Overview”), and had remained a sport dominated by Canadians for the next century.

However, their dominance in hockey began to wane with the introduction of a new powerhouse: the Soviet Union. Once a team who had won 15 out of 20 international championships, the omnipresence of Canada was dashed when the Soviets began to defeat them in several global championships ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). This, alongside the brewing Cold War between the Soviets and Americans, would be the cause for a new kind of war. A war not fought with bullets but with pucks. Evidently, the 1972 Summit Series cemented its place in Canada’s history, as it not only acted as a battle between two differing ideals, but it displayed the adaptability and perseverance of the Canadian people.

Before the Soviets

Prior to the entrance of the Soviets, Canada had been a dominant force in the global arena. ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)") They had won 15 out of 20 international tournaments over a span of 30 years, never placing below second ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). However, in 1954, the Soviet team entered the International Championship and defeated the Canadians in the finals ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). By the late 1950’s, Canadians found themselves regularly losing to Soviet teams (Canada 2016).

As a result of Canada’s diminished standing in hockey, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau initiated a inquiry to Canada’s standing in sports (Canada 2016). This inquiry led to the foundation of Hockey Canada (Canada 2016). With Canada and the Soviets eager to assert their dominance on an international scale, they began to set up a tournament in 1968, concluding their talks in April 1972 ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). The outcome was to be an eight game exhibition match taking place in September, which would go down in history as the 1972 Summit Series ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)").

Leading up to the series, most Canadians expected an easy victory (Canada 2016). Canadian scouts who were sent to Russia reported that the Soviets were not especially skilled (Staff 2017), further boosting the morale of the Canadians. Canadian players entered their camp out of shape, in contrast to the Soviet players whose continuous training and conditioning would prove to be a challenge. On September 2nd, 1972, the first match was played in the Montreal Forum ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)").

Within seven minutes, Team Canada gained a 2-0 lead over the Russians, feeding into the belief of an easy victory (1972 Summit Series Game One in Montreal). However, the Canadians eased up and the Soviets took advantage. The inaugural game of the series ended with the USSR triumphing over Canada 7-3 (1972 Summit Series Game One in Montreal), silencing an entire nation . In their next three matches, Canada would win, tie and lose to an increasingly threatening Soviet team (Staff 2017).

The Canadian public, once optimistic and supportive, began to lose their faith, resulting in them booing their own team after their game four loss ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). This prompted star player Phil Esposito to confront the crowd to express his disappointment, saying: "I'm completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Every one of us guys -- 35 guys -- we came out because we love our country. Not for any other reason. We came because we love Canada" (1972 Summit Series Game Four).

Afterwards the Break

After a short break, Canada flew to Sweden for 3 days so that they can get used to the larger ice surface and European rules (Canada 2016). Afterwards, the team left for Moscow, where the remainder of the games would be played ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). In game 5, Canada held a 4-1 up to the third period, but the Soviets recovered, ending in a 5-4 defeat ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)").

Canada was trailing the series 3-1-1 and they could only hope for a miracle if they wanted to win ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). Their next two games saw Canada winning 3-2 and 4-3 respectively (Canada 2016), leading up to the series finale. On September 28, 1972, Canadians across the country tuned in to their televisions and radios to watch the match that would crown the dominant hockey superpower in the world (1972 Summit Series Game Eight).

After some unfair penalties and alterations with the officials, the game was tied 5-5 with about seven minutes left ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). The Soviets announced that they would claim victory in the series since they led Canada by one goal overall ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). With the clock winding down, left winger Paul Henderson rushed down the ice, and with 34 seconds left in the match, the goal that would define Canadian history was scored (Canada 2016).

The 1972 Summit Series

The 1972 Summit Series was a shining example of the adaptability of Canadians. Prior to the series, the sentiment that the Canadians would easily win caused them to enter camp underprepared and out of shape ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). In contrast, the Soviets practiced for most of the year, making sure that they were in better shape ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). After Canada’s humiliating defeat in game one, they drastically changed their gameplay to match the Soviet’s rapid and precise strategies (Kreiser 2012).

The Canadians even spent time in between their matches in Canada and Moscow learning the different gameplay styles of European hockey by playing against Sweden ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). This shows a team that is determined to succeed, and will do anything to ensure they are victorious. Despite the stigmas against the Soviet Union during the Cold War (“Hockey Put Canada's Cold War Perceptions on Ice.”), Canada incorporated their strategies into their own gameplay so that their team could improve. Today, Canada is a beacon of multiculturalism, having various cultures represented and thrive in one setting. The Summit Series defined the versatility of our country during changing times, a trait that has become our emblem on a global scale.

The Series also highlighted the Canadian team’s perseverance during a brutal hockey series. After the Canadian team lost their first few games, the public got agitated ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)"). Their frustration was at a peak after their fourth game loss resulting in Espocito, a Canadian player, voicing his displeasure in the crowd, however not all of the hate was dissipated ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)").  As the match took place during the cold war, tensions were high, resulting in many Canadians continuing to heckle, even after Espocito’s impassioned speech ("1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)").

Despite this, Team Canada continued to hone their craft and improve, resulting in them triumphing over the Soviet’s in their own country (Canada 2016). Canadians have been diligent throughout history, whether it be during their victory at Vimy Ridge (“The Battle of Vimy Ridge.”) or the disaster at Dieppe (Veterans Affairs Canada 2019). However, it was the triumph in Moscow where the public began to realise the value of their grit. The series was watched by millions of Canadians (1972 Summit Series Game Eight), and by winning, they were shown that anything was possible with hard work. This mindset is now at the epicenter of Canadian culture: Canadian students are now among the top in the world (Shepherd 2010) and Canadians have invented several innovative products such as the Java programming language (Lindeman 2017).  Perseverance has been seen throughout Canadian history, but the Summit series proved that even at the lowest of lows, one can still come out as a champion.

The Summit series, a tournament once thought to be a blowout for Canada, proved to be one of the most surprising, thrilling and influential moments in Canada’s history. Through the series’ eight matches, the country was exposed to two traits that would become their namesake in future years: their adaptability in tough situations and their perseverance in the face of adversity. For many Canadians, the series gave them hope that if they worked hard, they may overcome any challenge that life may throw their way. Through the rich history of this country expands daily, there will never be an event as captivating as the 1972 Summit Series.