Christmas night 1972 was particularly special for the Totems as they hosted the Soviet Union Red Army team at the Seattle Center Coliseum.

During pre-game ceremonies, any Cold War tensions that were being felt by either side was quickly diminished, when Soviet captain Victor Kuzkin carried Annette Daggett (one of Totems broadcaster Joe Daggett's twin daughters) over to Russian coach Vsevolod Bobrov, so she could present flowers to him. The good spirits continued as the 12,367 fans in attendance cheered the two teams exchanging gifts.


Photo by team photographer, Jerry Berg.

The Soviets took a quick first period 3-0 lead, before Paul Raymer finally got the Totems on the board. The Totems valiantly fought back and managed to tie the game midway through the second period at 4-4.

But the Russians showed why they gave Team Canada such a scare in September of that same year. Five unanswered goals as they pulled away from the Totems for a 9-4 victory. 41 shots on goal by the Russians on goalies Dan Brady and Bruce Bullock. 34 shots by the Totes on goalie Alexandr Sidelnikov. (Their star goalkeeper Vladislav Tretiak sat on the bench with the night off)

Few fans were disappointed with the outcome having been treated to what many considered a clinic put on by the Russians. The Totems players were equally impressed. Bob Walton: "They'd go when they wanted to.." Bryan McSheffrey: "...They're robots anyway. They could play 24 periods out there." Paul Raymer: "I would have played them for nothing. Just for the enjoyment and experience to say you've played them."

Soviet assistant coach Boris Kulagin, who was also the team spokesman, had some carefully chosen but kind words through an interpreter for the Seattle hockey fans: "We like the attitude of the crowd. Seattle crowd is quite objective."




Dave Westner upended by Alexandr Gusev on the cover of the January 7, 1973 issue of "Football-Hockey",
which was a Sunday supplement to the newspaper, Soviet Sport.

ICE BOX SCORE

First period-1. Russia, Orlov (Petrov, Kharlamov), 4:30. 2. Russia, Maltsev (Liapkin), 5:17. 3. Russia, Bodunov {Anisin, Ragulin), 9:20. 4. Seattle, Raymer (Westbrooke, Hatoum), 12:33. 5. Seattle, Seguin (unassisted), 16:14. Penalties-McNabb (5) 6:01; Lutchenko (R) 13:50.
Second period-6. Russia, Yakushev (Vikulov, Maltsev), 5:57. 7. Seattle, Walton (McSheffrey, Seguin), 6:36. 8. Seattle, Bonter (Dunn, Westner), 7:32. 9. Russia, Bodunov (Anisin, Lutchenko), 17:06. Penalties-Bolonchuk (5) 13:16.
Third period-10. Russia, Tsigankov (Bodunov, Lebedev), 4:02. 11. Russia, Russia, Yakushev (Maltsev), 14:47. Liapkin (Yakushev, Visiliev), 7:35. 12. Penalties-Gusev (R) 0:35; Bonter (S) 5:43. Tsigankov (R) and Westner (S) 8:23.
Shots on goal by:
Russia: 12-12-17-41
Seattle: 10-14-10-34
Goalies-Russia, Sidelnikov; Seattle, Brady, Bullock. A-12,367.


Dave Westner again! This time under friendlier circumstances. Photo by team photog, Jerry Berg.

A little over a year later on January 5th, 1974 the Totems and the Soviet Union Red Army team played a rematch.

Totems coach Phil Maloney held high praise for the visiting Russians, labeling them as the best team in the world. And after the 9-4 pasting the Totems took on that night in 1972 along with the announcement that the Soviets' number one goaltender, Vladislav Tretiak, would be between the pipes for the second match, it looked like another Soviet victory was in store at the sold-out Seattle Center Coliseum. So confident were Soviet coaches Vsevolod Bobrov and Boris Kulagin, that they even sat out one of their top lines of Vladimir Shadrin, Alexsandr Yakushev and Alexandr Maltsev, as well as one of their top defensemen, Vladimir Luchenko.

But what the Soviets did not expect was the “Big W” line of Dave Westner, Dave Wisener and Don Westbrooke, who connected for five of Seattle's goals enroute to an 8-4 upset of the visiting Soviets. The Totems got on the board early in the first period and never looked back much to the delight of the 12,710 in attendance at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Westbrooke scored a hat trick, Westner bagged two and Wisener had four assists. Gene Sobchuk, Larry Gould and Danny Gloor scored the other three Seattle goals.

Like in the first game against the USSR, Bruce Bullock and Dan Brady split the goaltending duties, each allowing two goals apiece on an incredible 49 shots on goal by the Soviets. As for Tretiak, he allowed eight goals on 31 Seattle shots. At the final horn, the two teams skated to center ice and held the traditional handshake to a thundering standing ovation in the Coliseum.

The victory marked the 12th consecutive game without a loss at home for the Totems that season, including a 6-4 victory over the visiting Czechoslovakian squad Dukla Jihlava on Christmas, 1973.

The convincing victory by the Totems tarnished somewhat the Soviets' reputation as world beaters. A barnstorming tour of NHL clubs having already been canceled due to financial concerns coupled with this defeat by a Western Hockey League club put a damper on a planned NHL tour for the following season.

In addition to the upset, Westbrooke's three goals made him the only North American player to ever register a hat trick against the legendary Vladislav Tretiak.


Don Westbrooke

ICE BOX SCORE

FIRST PERIOD-1.-Seattle, Westner (Wisener and Westbrooke) 1:34. Penalties- Shatalov (R) 6:51, Amadio (S) 8:25, Mikhailov (R) 11:19, Gusev (R> 17:21, Mair (S> 19:33.
SECOND PERIOD-2. Russia, Mikhailov (Petrov), 1:04; 3. Russia, Kharlamov (Mikhailov), Gusev), 7:24: 4. Seattle, Sobchuk (Roselle, Amadio) 9:35; 5. Westbrooke -(Wisener, Westner), 10:53; 6. Seattle. Westner (Wisener, McCord), 11:12; 7. Seattle, Westbrooke (Westner, Wisener), 19:24. Penalties - Westbrooke, Sea., 7:04; Tsigankov, Russ, 8:05; Seguin, Sea, 15:49.
THIRD PERIOD -3. Seattle, Gould (Seguin, Stone), 4:23; 9. Seattle, Gloor (Gould, Seguin), 10:53; 10. Russia, Bodunov (Lebedev, Volchkov), 11:21: 11. Russia, Yakushev (Maltsev, Kuznetsov), 11:47; 12. Seattle, Westbrooke (Folco, Westner), 18:53. Penalties-Vasiliev, Russ, 4:12; McCord, Sea, 4:49; Mikhailov, Russ, 10:43; Yakushev, Russ, 15:19.
Shots an goal by:
Russia 18 16 15-49
Seattle 11 13 7-31 Goalies - Tretiak, Russia; Bullock, Brady, Seattle.
Attendance-12,710.

(The following article was written by Totems' broadcaster, Joe Daggett. It comes from his column, "View From The Gondola" in Seattle Totems Hockey Magazine, International Special Issue, January 5, 1974. Page 47. In his eloquent style, Daggett captures well the spirit of those international matches during the Cold War in the 1970's.)

Russian Visit Brings Out the Best In Us
By Joe Daggett

One year ago, on Christmas Night, 1972, history was made in the Seattle sports world when the Soviet National Champions visited our town to meet the Seattle Totems. Ever since then, off and on, people have been coming up to me and saying, "It was the most enjoyable sports event we've ever attended in Seattle."

They weren't necessarily referring to the fact that one of the world's greatest hockey teams - the Russians, who had just played the NHL All-Stars of Team Canada to a virtual draw - was displaying its consumate skills. Nor were they necessarily referring to the fact that the fired-up Seattle team, though heavily out-manned in talent, played inspired hockey for two periods, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to tie the Russians at 4-4 and lend stirring drama to the playing of a match eventually won by the Soviets 9-4.

The thing that underlay the simple playing of a hockey game and catalyzed the athletic elements of the evening into a memorable event was, to my mind, the plain fact that the Russians were here.

For twenty-five years they had been the "Godless Communists" whom we had been conditioned to loathe and distrust. And even the most enlightened among us, to one degree or another, did indeed invest their system with demonic qualities, even while realizing that Russians as individuals are basically little different from us.

Somehow we'd known all along that Russians are people, and our knowledge was confirmed when, before that game, the Soviet captain scooped a little girl with her bunch of roses up in his arms and carried her across the rink so she might present them to the Soviet coach. That broke the ice, and we welcomed the Russians with lusty effusion of post-detente human warmth: a standing ovation that was repeated after each period and at the end of the game, and which had naught to do with the contest itself.

So the evening was characterized more by mood than muscle, and it's the memory of this mood that's lingered in peoples' minds. Seattle can be proud of last year's game: proud of the welcome it extended to the Soviet players and the favorable impression it made on them; proud of the way the Seattle hockey team played; and proud of its own behavior and sportsmanship in applauding every good play by both sides.

Even though it's a year later now, I'm betting we'll feel some more of that magic tonight. The Star-Spangled Banner will be charged with new meaning. Our appreciation for the game of hockey will be heightened. Our innate desire for international peace and fellowship will be openly displayed in the way we greet our visitors and express admiration for their play while cheering on our own team. And whether the Totems win or lose we'll probably look back on this game a year hence and say, "It was the most enjoyable sports event we've ever attended in Seattle."

References:

Danielson, Del (26 December, 1972) Precision On Ice: Soviet Six Impresses Totems. The Seattle Times. Pg. D1
Parietti, Walt (26 December, 1972) P(l)ucky Totems Lose to Russians. The Seattle Times. Pg. D1
Daggett, Joe ((5 January, 1974) Russian Visit Brings Out the Best In Us. Seattle Totems Hockey Magazine. Pg. 47
Parietti, Walt (6 January, 1974) Totems' Big W Line Shocks Russians. The Seattle Times. Pg. D1