SUPER SERIES '76-77: Team USSR
Clubs vs. WHA clubs
by John McLain
December 31, 1976
Soviet Union Assistant Coach, Vladimir Jurzinov
sat calmly in the press box at The Summit. Speaking
through an interpreter Jurzinov sounded bored, even
"I have a feeling that our team played better
this day than we have before, and it's a pity the
Aeros were so unlucky", said an emotionless
Jurzinov, who 10 minutes earlier had helped coach
the Selecta to a 10-1 massacre of Houston. "Our
players are more accustomed to the size of the rinks
here, and we are getting adjusted to the difference
of time in the United States."
A crowd of 15,302, the largest to see an Aeros
game at The Summit,
watched the methodical Russians conquer Houston
with ease. Too
bad for the Aeros a few fans could not have been
the Houston goal.
"The second and fourth goals were the keys
to the game," Jurzinov
said. "When we scored the second goal, breaking
a 1-1 tie at
2:19 of the second period, we knew we could score
When we scored the fourth at 13:13 of the second
period we knew
the game was over."
For the Aeros it was a horror show of major proportions.
which had lost 5-2 to New England and beaten Cincinnati
scored 8 goals in the second period. The Russians
scored 3 unassisted
goals, a short-handed goal and they capitalized
on three power
Although the Russians manhandled the Aeros with
attack, Jurzinov criticized the way Houston played.
"Rough tactics? This was a love nest compared
to some of our
games" said Gordie Howe, who was involved
in a minor fight in
the last minute of the game.
"It's a pity a beautiful player such as Gordie
Howe started slashing and playing dirty because
when you are getting beaten by a better team you
should learn to accept defeat", Jurzinov said. "It
is very difficulty to understand why the Aeros started
to play so rough and dirty in the third period."
Houston was penalized only 8 minutes in the third
period by the Russian referee. For the game the
Aeros were penalized 16 minutes to the Russians
8 a far cry from Tuesdays' 6-3 win over Winnipeg.
Against the Jets the Aeros drew 68 penalty minutes
in the first period.
"I'm not a damn angel, but there is no way I look
to lose 10-1" Gordie Howe said. "In 30 years I've
never liked to lose. If you think the Russians alibi
when they win, you should hear them when they lose."
In the first period, both teams scored a goal.
gave Selecta a 1-0 lead on an unassisted shot past
Ron Grahame at 5:16. But Rich Preston tied the game
with a rebound
shot at 9:21 and the score remained 1-1 until the
"We played hard and well in the first period",
Aero Coach Bill Dineen said, "but the Russian referee
told us after the period he was going to call it
a lot closer the rest of the game. He said he let
too much go."
Selecta took the lead at 2:19 of the second period.
Taylor in the penalty box for tripping, Sergei Babinov
Wayne Rutledge replaced Grahame at 10:15 of the
Glen Irwin decked a Russian with a vicious cross-check,
Russians exploded. Rutledge was the victim, but
in his defense
it can be said he had little help from his teammates.
Aleksandr Yakushev, Helmut Balderis, Vladimir Kovin,
Victor Shalimov, Aleksandr Golikov, and Vladimir
Petrov scored before the period ended. Petrov named
Selecta's outstanding player scored twice in the
assault on Rutledge.
"Five of the goals were my fault,"
Rutledge said. ‘The Russians
have a potent team. The biggest problem was that
I blocked three
shots, but we could not clear the puck, which bounced
to where the Russians were. I feel like I let my
but what&"s done is done."
Grahame returned in the third period, but the Russians
toyed with the Aeros. Golikov scored his second
goal on a power play at 16:06 giving Selecta it's
"The refereeing, didn't make any difference," Gordie
Howe said. "The difference was talent. They wouldn't
let us have the puck. We should have broken their
patterns but we let them run and that's when they
Don Larway, who was voted the Aeros' outstanding
player, made several splendid rushes, although none
lead to goals.
"They just don't make mistakes", Larway said. "When
they have the puck the only time they give it up
is to pass or shoot. They're just a super team."
The Aeros resume World Hockey Association action
Sunday at Winnipeg.