SUPER SERIES '76-77: Team USSR
Clubs vs. WHA clubs
San Diego Union
by Wayne Lockwood
January 4, 1977
San Diego, CA
Napoleon got all the way to Moscow, Hitler made
it to Stalingrad.
The San Diego Mariners advanced to a 2-0 lead.
They all suffered the same fate at the hands of
Napoleon and Hitler ran afoul of winter and good
old Slavic stubbornness.
The Mariners were done in by referee Viktor Dombrowski
is very likely the best team in hockey as the Soviet
squad skated from behind to a 6-3 exhibition victory
sell-out crowd of 13,029 last night at the Sports
Aided by two power play goals, the Soviets moved
in front late
in the second period and continued on to their fourth
in five tries during a tour of World Hockey Association
The Mariners had nothing but praise for the visitors'
nothing but complaints about the referee they brought
Dombrowski ranked the No. 1 official in the Soviet
San Diego no power-play opportunities, and his countrymen
throughout the entertaining game.
The Russians cashed in one with 43 seconds left
in the second
period to take a 3-2 lead and used another to score
to be the winning goal at 2:05 of the third.
The Mariners, who played what might be their best
game of the
year, closed to within 4-3 with five minutes left,
two late goals as they pressed for what would have
been the equalizer.
Still, the Mariners could skate off with their
"I couldn't be more proud of my guys,"
said coach Ron Ingram.
"They did everything I wanted them to against
just a super, super
team. But we were playing seven men. You can quote
"That referee practiced with them today.
He was out there skating
around, joking with them. What is that?"
The Mariners complaints were not about penalties
them, which they conceded were justified. They were
not called against the Russians.
"They should have had two penalties when we
were ahead 2-0,"
felt Andre Lacroix, noting occasions on which Kevin
"If we had scored then, it might have been
a different game."
It all depends on your point of view. "If
the referee called
every penalty, San Diego would have been playing
a man short
all night," suggested Soviet coach Boris Kulagin.
"Actually, it was better than I expected
when I heard he was
going to do the game," said Mariner defenseman
Paul Shmyr, who
opposed the Soviets in 1974.
"He was worse than that in Moscow."
"The worst thing is", noted John French,
"when you yell at him
he doesn't understand. It's very frustrating."
Still not even Dombrowski could take the bloom
off what was simply
a splendid hockey game.
"We'll never play a better team than
that," felt French. "Holy
bleep, are they good."
"I can't believe how much better they
are than in 74", said Lacroix.
"They're outstanding fore-checkers
now" noted Shmyr. "They didn't
use to do that at all." They used to let you
come right out of
your end with no trouble."
And how much better was this juggernaut than the
even strength, one goal.
The San Diegans, who came out flying, held the
a shot for nearly eight minutes and became only
the second team
on this tour to lead them when Don Burgess and Wayne
Burgess punched French's centering pass past
star Russian goalie
Vladislav Tretiak at 2:11 and Rivers on a fine individual
broke away from a check and closed to beat Tretiak
with a quick
short-range flip late in the period.
But all this time, slowly but steadily the pattern
of play was
moving up the ice towards the Mariner's zone.
Although they came off losing, the Soviets wound
up with a 7-5
edge in shots.
In the second period it was 17-6. Some fine work
goalie Ken Lockett and Ernie Wakely kept the home
nonetheless. ("They have some beautiful goaltenders,"
The Soviets finally broke through at 4:29 of the
when their longtime internationalist, Valeri Kharlamov,
a beautiful backhand pass from the face-off circle
to send Boris
Mikhailov in free to beat Lockett from short range.
The Spider took a 2-1 lead to the bench with him,
it appeared that the Mariners might protect it until
intermission before they ran into some late misfortune.
With just over two and a half minutes left, defenseman
Babinov picked off a Lacroix pass at the blueline
and fed it
to the Russians leading scorer Vladimir Petrov.
He, in turn, fed it ahead to Aleksandr Yakushev
for a quick poke
over Wakely's shoulder from point-blank range.
It was shortly after this that Dombrowski went
into his act.
He called Lacroix for slashing ("I told my
players that we would
get a penalty in the last four minutes," Ingram
the way they always call them.")
Just over a minute after Lacroix went off, Petrov
put away a
rebound of Vladimir Lutchenko's point blank
shot and the visitors
were in front to stay.
Early in the final period, Rivers went off for
slashing and Vladimir
Krikunov scored on a point blank shot to make it
That was followed by a series of double penalties
on both sides
("I predicted that too", said Ingram.
"It makes the statistics
look more even.")
By this time, Mariners owner Ray Kroc was on his
some rather indelicate things at any Russian in
With the teams playing three a side, Shmyr led
a two-on-one rush
and tried to feed a backhand pass to Kevin Morrison.
It hit a
Russian defenseman in the skate and angled past
Suddenly, the Mariners had a chance to escape with
at least a
But Aleksandr Malstev snatched it away less than
later with a quick backhand from 20 feet out, and
made sure with his second goal of the night –
this one at the
end of a picture three way passing play.
"I think we played well enough to tie or
maybe even win,' said
Ingram. "And that's taking nothing away
from the Russians.
"We gave it a hell of an effort," said
French. "We can't feel
bad at all about that game."
"The Russians weren't saying much of