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Home fans boo, Espo lets them have it

People took the day off work on Sept. 28, 1972 to watch Canada play the Soviet Union. In the game's last seconds, their hero Paul Henderson scored an epoch-making goal. But the hockey series was more than just that final game. The fast and skilled Soviets surprisingly showed up Team Canada in eight gruelling games that changed Canadian hockey forever. It became faster, better. And the drama began in game one when Team Canada skated onto the ice self-admiring and mighty, only to be knocked down hard, 7-3, by the Soviet Union.

More than 15,000 heckling Canadian fans boo their team while watching game 4 at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum. Canada plays poorly for most of the game, with 38 of 41 shots on goal stopped by Soviet goalie sensation Vladislav Tretiak. The game ends with a score of 5-3 for the Soviets and home-team fans boo Canada right off the ice. Assistant captain Phil Esposito is not taking this lightly. He skates back onto the rink, sopping with sweat, and scolds Canada.

"I'm really disappointed [with the fans]. I am completely disappointed. I cannot believe it," he says with a hangdog face. "Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps. We know, we're trying, I mean, hell, we're doing the best we can."
• The day after the booing incident, Esposito was happy when fans at Toronto's airport greeted the team with cheers and placards.
• Phil Esposito was named the MVP of game 4. • Team Canada saw him as their leader throughout the Canada-Soviet series.
• Before the series, Esposito was known as a brutish goal-scorer who stood around the net waiting for his chance. He played for the Boston Bruins at the time.

• In 1972, Esposito was the first NHLer to score 70 goals.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Magazine
Broadcast Date: Sept. 10, 1972
Guest(s): Phil Esposito
Host: Frank Herbert, Bruce Rogers
Duration: 1:08

Last updated: September 28, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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