I last saw a Canada-USA hockey game around a quarter of a century ago in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Now another this Friday here at Rod Laver in Melbourne. There is no game like hockey. I think Aussie Rules is tougher and all forms of rugby more dangerous. But there is nothing like the grace and flow of hockey. The game I saw those many years ago ended with the classic score 6-5 for us, the same score in the eighth game of the first ever Canada-Russia series where it was our pros against their pretend amateurs. They won the first game, we won the second and then we tied the third and they won the fourth. We then we lost the first in Moscow and had to win three straight, on the road, to win the series. I saw none of the games because I was hitchhiking through Europe at the time. And only found the result as we arrived in Paris late at night, trying to work out what happened from this typically sociological discussion on the pages of Le Monde that went on for two full columns until there was this vague mention of the result in a three-line last sentence that my French was only barely good enough for me to work out that the Canadians had won.
HOW IT ENDED: All for fun but I could see it was a real game, although the fight was completely staged. C’mon, it’s forty guys vacationing together in Australia, sharing the same hotels and breakfasts. But the game was the real thing, although with a complete absence of body contact. Yet there we were, with a minute and a half to go, 7-6 Canada, before two goals into the empty net left it 9-6. But there was a real fight in the stands with a chap wearing a shirt with a Russian name in Cyrillic script on the back taken out bleeding from the nose and head. Except for him, a nice time was had by all.