World Cup of Hockey: Canada, Russia renew their historic rivalry
Epic matchups in the Summit Series, Canada Cup, Olympics followed by new chapter on Saturday
Although it seemed most of Canada wanted to see Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey semifinal, the Canadian squad will play its first elimination game against a more familiar foe.
Historically, Russia and Canada hold one of hockey's most heated rivalries. Ahead of Saturday night's semifinal, we look back at some of the best moments between the two hockey superpowers in best-on-best tournaments.
Hockey's oldest rivalry was not tested at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, so we have to go back to the 2010 Games in Vancouver for the last meaningful matchup.
Faced with a difficult quarter-final match, the Canadians stormed out to a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes en route to crushing Russia's gold-medal hopes in the quarter-final with a 7-3 win. The victory was a sigh of relief for Canada, who had watched Mike Babcock's squad struggle early in the tournament, including a preliminary loss against the United States.
Canada went on to win gold on Sidney Crosby's "golden goal" against the United States.
The long-time rivals also met in the quarter-finals in Torino, Italy, but it was the Russians who silenced Canada's potent offence. Alexander Ovechkin broke a scoreless tie in the third period against Martin Brodeur before Alexei Kovalev added a late goal. The Canadians, aiming for a second-straight Olympic gold, had no answer for Russian netminder Evgeni Nabakov who posted the shutout in a 2-0 win.
The Russians eventually went on to finish fourth, falling 4-0 to Finland in the semifinals and 3-0 to the Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game.
1987 Canada Cup
The Soviet Union took the first game of the best-of-three series at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ont., with a 6-5 win. But Canada responded with a 6-5 win of its own in the second game. In a thrilling deciding game, Canada stormed back from a 3-0 deficit, before letting a 5-4 lead slip away. In a tie game with the crowd on its feet, Wayne Gretzky set up Mario Lemieux for the winner with 1:26 remaining in the third period.
1987 - Honourable mention
Although not technically a best-on-best tournament, the 1987 World Junior Championship provided perhaps the wildest scene. Known as "The Punch-up in Piestany," the Russians and Canadians had a ferocious bench-clearing brawl in the second period in the Czechoslovakia-set tournament. Things got so out-of-hand that the referees actually left the ice and turned out the lights in the stadium. That didn't stop the fighting and the two teams were ejected from the tournament.
1984 Canada Cup
The Soviet Union breezed through the round robin with a 5-0 record and had Canada on the verge of elimination in the semifinal. However, Doug Wilson scored late to tie the game at 2-2 allowing Paul Coffey to take over. The Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman broke up a two-on-one in overtime before his point shot was tipped by Mike Bossy for the winning goal, sending the Calgary crowd into a frenzy.
Canada swept Sweden in the best-of-three final to claim the title.
1981 Canada Cup
Unlike the 1984 edition of the Canada Cup, Canada could not contend with the powerful Soviets, who were looking for vengeance after losing the gold medal to the United States at the 1980 Olympics. Led by eventual tourney MVP Vladislav Tretiak in goal, the Soviet Union routed Canada 8-1 in the final in front of a stunned Montreal crowd.
However, the Russians were forbidden from taking the trophy home, a situation which almost caused a diplomatic incident between the two countries.
1972 Summit Series
Paul Henderson scored the winning goals in Games 6, 7 and 8, helping Canada pull off an incredible comeback in the heart of the Cold War. Trailing 5-3 in the deciding Game 8, the Canadians rallied to tie the game before Henderson scored the series-deciding goal with 34 seconds left.