Saturday, December 14, 2013

Historic Night: Seattle Totems vs. USSR National Champions

Now here's a historic program! This is from a game between the Western Hockey League's Seattle Totems and the USSR National Champions. This is the first-ever encounter between a Soviet team and a North American professional hockey team.

1972-73 Exhibition--Totems vs. USSR
     USSR teams would eventually play exhibition games against NHL teams in the mid-late 1970s, but their first game against a North American pro squad was against the Totems. The game was held at Seattle Center Coliseum (now Key Arena).
     Seattle was part of the old Western Hockey League, a minor-pro loop that was about on-par with the American Hockey League and, at one time, was rumored to make a jump to major league status. A competitive team for most of it's existence, by 1972-73 the Totems were in decline. The team finished 26-32-14, in fifth place and out of the playoffs. 
     Despite their mediocre season, the Totems did have some talent. Rob Walton led the way in scoring with 40 goals and 101 points, with Danny Seguin right behind with 32 goals and 79 points. Future Saginaw Gears forward Dave Westner played 71 games with the Totems, scoring 15 goals and 40 points. Dan Brady played the bulk of the games in net, going 16-19-14 with a 3.84 GAA.
     The USSR squad was a loaded roster, one that could have challenged for the Stanley Cup. The Soviets had star players such as Vladislav Tretiak, Aleksandr Maltsev, Boris Mikhailov, Aleksandr Yakushev and Valeriy Kharlamov. Several of the players on this roster would eventually be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ticket Stub for the game!
     Despite being over-matched, Seattle put up a fight. After the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, the Totems eventually tied the game at 4 in the second period. However, the Russians were simply too talented, and scored 5 unanswered goals to win, 9-4.
     Two years later, the Totems would exact revenge on the USSR, scoring an 8-4 win over the same Russian squad.
     I found this program on eBay a few years ago and grabbed it as soon as I saw it. It came with two newspaper clippings as well as an actual ticket stub from the game. It cost a little more than I like to spend on programs, but I thought it was worth it, considering the history involved.

Totems vs. the U.S.S.R. From the website
Seattle Totems Stats: 1972-73 (from
Russian National Champions lineup from Seattle Totems-Russian National Champions: Souvenir Magazine. December 25, 1972

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