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Hockey world still remembers Summit Series

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Hockey Editor

Forty years ago, Canada and the U.S.S.R. forged an undeniable rivalry. The 1972 Summit Series pitted the two countries in an eight-game match up. Two international powerhouses on the same stage.

The Russians shocked Canada and the hockey world with their dazzling play in the first game. Trailing by two goals in the first period, Russia came back to win 7-3.

That game changed the tone of the Summit Series and turned it into a slugfest. Canada couldn’t take the Russians lightly.

The Summit Series was an interesting time for hockey. The World Hockey Association just formed and Canada only picked players from the NHL to compete. Guys such as Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe weren’t included. But, of course, there as Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita, J.P. Parise and so many others.

Canada eventually won the series 4-3-1, after winning the final three games of the series.

“I could not believe that there were so many good players on one team,” said Parise in a New York Times article on Sept. 1. “As we got more in shape and more competitive it evened out, but that first game, they were prepared – they had been preparing for years. I was in awe.”

The rivalry wasn’t just contained to the ice where many say there was dirty play. The Canadian team had food stolen and when they were in Moscow were getting phone calls to their room in the middle of the night.

This month, some of the members from Team Canada will head to Russia to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series.

But hockey fans have been celebrating it for years.

There have been a number of card sets commemorating the series over the years starting with the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Team Canada cards. The cards featured floating heads of 28 players that participated for Team Canada in the Summit Series. Some of the most popular cards in this set include the singles for Ken Dryden (high-book value $50), Tony Esposito ($30), Paul Henderson ($30), Bobby Clarke ($25) and Phil Esposito ($25).

These cards were issued as an insert with OPC’s second series that year, and the backs were written in English and French.

Another popular set associated with the Summit Series was the 1997-98 Pinnacle Certified Summit Silver, although these cards were solely about Henderson, who scored the winning goal in Game 8.

These cards featured a five-card set and then three autographed cards with different print runs. The most rare being the gold parallels numbered to 100, which has a book value of $200.

The latest cards dedicated to the Summit Series came from In The Game.

In 2011-12, ITG had a series “Canada vs. The World Summit Series.” These cards featured Canadian and Russian Players. ITG also had a series in 2009-10 called “1972 The Year in Hockey,” which had autograph cards from players such as Guy Lapointe, Ron Ellis, Mikita and Frank Mahovlich.

Susan Lulgjuraj is the editor of Beckett Hockey magazine. You can email Susan here with ideas, comments and questions. Follow her on Twitter here.

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