When I was nine I heard the final game of the 1972 series broadcast from Moscow on the car radio sitting in a parking lot in Middleton, NS. We won. We were not always successful in the international head to head tournaments after that and into the '80s but we quickly came to love or at least fear the Soviet National anthem. We loved or at least feared Vladislav Tretiak and Valeri Kharlamov. To fill the emotional need, there were any number of tours across the country where Canucks and Ruskies beat their heads against each other.
In 1984, I saw a touring Soviet national team play in Halifax against Canada's Olympic training team. The evil team had eight guys called Sergei which the announcer at the rink pronounced as "Sir-jay-ee." We cheered when the Canadians rushed toward their end. When they let loose slap shots from beyond half we winced silent winces expecting the goalie or the boards behind the net to crack from the awful force of a Marxist-Leninist totalitarian Moscow Red Army player's sheer power.
In the 1987 Canada Cup, Mario and Wayne destroyed them in a game so exciting that I had to turn off the TV and only knew Canada won when the wintery neighbourhood erupted out there, outside the windows of the house, car horns blaring to the horizon. Then there was Gorby, then there were Russian players in the NHL, then the bear seemed to fade a bit. Then they got good again. I have no idea what will happen tonight but over half all Canadians will watch the TV tonight to watch a quarter-final game. Because it is Canada against Russia.
What beer to have?
Later: Turns out the beer is Unibroue's Edition 2005, a 10% Extra Strong Ale on Lees under an old school "U with grain" logo. And Canada scored its first goal between the pop of the cork and my first sip. It pours a dark brown with a thin white rim. Dark plum and dark chocolate on the nose. Gorgeous in the mouth. A mild menthol effect fades into plum and cola, ginger and nutmeg, apple butter and tobacco. A little oily but not too heavy. Plenty of BAer love.
Two nuttin' for Canada 12 minutes into the first period. Excellent. Three nuttin' a minute later. Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my.