The Summit Series headed to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sept. 6, 1972. Canadian hockey fans had experienced an unanticipated emotional roller-coaster with the thud of reality from Team Canada's 7-3 loss in Montreal on Sept. 2, then the exhilaration as all the Canadian hockey gods aligned in perfect fashion for a 4-1 Team Canada victory in Toronto on Sept. 4.
Would the Canadians be able to build from momentum from Game 2? Would they spare our hockey nation any more unexpected duress? Would we be haunted by the Soviet Union team that was so effective in Game 1?
Winnipeg was an interesting choice for Game 3 as it was the centre of the most controversial off-ice decision that had an impact on Team Canada. Early on in the process of selecting a team, it was assumed that Chicago Blackhawks superstar Bobby Hull would be a key player for Team Canada.
Hull was the predominant player to jump to the newly formed World Hockey Association that was to begin play in October 1972. There was nothing subtle about the move. His signing by the Winnipeg Jets in the heart of downtown Winnipeg at the intersection of Portage and Main was meant to send a signal that the WHA was to be taken seriously. The NHL paid attention.
The men who ran the league decided to play hardball. They interceded to make sure that Hull, J.C. Tremblay, Gerry Cheevers, and Derek Sanderson -- all invited to play for Team Canada and all signing with the WHA -- were quickly uninvited to play for the national team.
Euphoria followed by sorrow
Team Canada's win in Toronto afforded many hockey fans time to devote some of their focus to the Munich Olympics, which had begun just a few days earlier on Aug. 26. On the eve of the game in Winnipeg, the Olympics took a stunning and tragic turn. Sept. 5 was the day that terrorists stormed the athletes' village and took a number of Israeli athletes and coaches hostage.
After hours of tense negotiations, which we were all able to watch up close and personal on television as the events unfolded, we learned that a successful rescue effort had freed the hostages as their captors were attempting to flee the country with them in helicopters and airplanes that had been negotiated by the German authorities.
That euphoria proved to be shortlived as we soon learned that the rescue attempt had failed and 11 Israeli athletes and coaches had been killed.
The buildup for the third game in Winnipeg the next evening had an understandably sombre tone as our thoughts and priorities were elsewhere.
On the hockey front, a move that the Soviet Union ultimately didn't make proved to be huge. Backup goaltender Viktor Zinger was scheduled to start Game 3. But he mysteriously came down with a case of the flu. So Vladislav Tretiak got his third consecutive start in net.
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