The Summit in 1974


SUPER SERIES '76-77: Team USSR Clubs vs. WHA clubs

Houston Chronicle

by John McLain
December 31, 1976
Houston, TX

Soviet Union Assistant Coach, Vladimir Jurzinov sat calmly in the press box at The Summit. Speaking through an interpreter Jurzinov sounded bored, even sad.

"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 placed around 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 many more. 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. Selecta which had lost 5-2 to New England and beaten Cincinnati 7-5, scored 8 goals in the second period. The Russians scored 3 unassisted goals, a short-handed goal and they capitalized on three power plays.

Although the Russians manhandled the Aeros with their systematic 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. Vladimir Krikunov gave Selecta a 1-0 lead on an unassisted shot past goaltender 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 second period.

"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. With Ted Taylor in the penalty box for tripping, Sergei Babinov scored.

Wayne Rutledge replaced Grahame at 10:15 of the period. After Glen Irwin decked a Russian with a vicious cross-check, the angry 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 right out to where the Russians were. I feel like I let my teammates down, 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 last goal.

"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 killed us."

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.




The Summit in 1974