As a national team, Team Canada was formed in 1963. Before that, it was usually a senior amateur team champion that represented Canada in international tournaments. The Canadian amateur teams were highly successful in international hockey, since they won the world championship fifteen times (out of nineteen tournaments) between years 1920 and 1952.
In 1950’s, Soviet Union became the dominating country in the world of hockey. From 1963 onwards, there was the decade when Soviet Union won all Olympic and World championships except one – that being 1972 World championships in Prague, where the Czechs grabbed the gold. Since the best Canadian professional players did not have right to take part in the international hockey, the Canadians thought that they are still number one hockey nation.
Summit Series vs. Soviet Union
In 1972, Hockey Series between Canada and Soviet Union took place. This series is considered as one of the most legendary sporting events ever. The series consisted of eight games, of which first four were played in Canada and remaining four in the Soviet Union. The American press expected an easy victory for Team Canada, so the hockey fans were astonished, when Soviet Union won Game one 7-3. After all, Canada wasn’t supposed to lose any games, as the sports writers anticipated!
Huge pressure from the fans
The relief was enormous when Canada won the second game 4-1. Moreover, another two games played in Canada resulted 4-4 tie and 5-3 victory to USSR team. After the fourth game, Team Canada was booed off the ice. In the post-game interview, Phil Esposito expressed, how disappointed he was on the fan behaviour. The pressure towards the team was huge.
The games in Moscow
In Soviet Union, the hosts won the first match and Team Canada had to win the remaining three matches to win the series. The remaining matches were fierce and physical – and partly ill-tempered. Canada managed to take narrow victories from Games six and seven, so the last game became the crucial one. Paul Henderson managed to score 6-5 winning goal past Vladislav Tretjak only 34 seconds before full time.
In retrospect, these games were not only for the hockey, but also seen as the battle between democracy and communism. Canada and Soviet Union played another Summit Series in 1974 and that time, USSR team was better – they won four games, three games were tied and Canada won only once.
Team Canada in Olympic Games
Team Canada is the most successful team in Olympic games ice hockey. The have won nine gold, four silver and three bronze medals altogether. The Canadian team boycotted international ice hockey in the 1970’s, because they thought that Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia used players that were not really amateurs, playing hockey full-time. Because of this, Canada did not take part in 1972 and 1976 Olympic tournaments. For the beginning of 21th century, Team Canada won three Olympic gold medals – in 2002, 2010 and 2014 games. However, in 2018 tournament in Pyeongchang, Team USA beat Team Canada in Olympic final match after shootouts.
Team Canada in other tournaments
In Canada Cup and in the tournament successor World Cup, Team Canada has won six championships and they have been runners-up for two times. So, the Canadians have been very strong when all-star teams have participated in international tournaments.
In World Championships, Canada dominated the early decades of the tournament. They had a long streak with the success during the time, when Soviet Union dominated the games and they withdrew from international ice hockey in the 1970’s. There was over thirty years period without Team Canada winning ice hockey World championship between 1961 and 1994. However, during the history Canada has won total of 26 championships and achieved 50 medals in World championships.