The ball at the end of the fairy tale

Posted on September 5, 2012
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(2002 update of 1972 article)

In the first moments after the referee plucked Henderson’s miracle goal out of the net and skated back to center, the reaction in the stands was indescribable. It was of course, not possible. Canada had not scored more than four goals in any of the previous games against the Russians. Down two at the end of the second period, Canada had to beat Russia by three in the last period to win. Figure out the odds.

Toronto Maple Leaf, Paul Henderson, scorer of three consecutive winning goals, came closest to describing it saying that it was a living fairy tale.

First thing I did was throw both hands, flag and trumpet in the air and let out the biggest roar of my life. Not a sound came out of the first try. Next thing was to give Betty Jean a big hug and a kiss. We were all actually leaping up and down and screaming and pounding one another with swats that should have landed some of us in the hospital.

I looked at Mark Romoff, a new friend from Ottawa, and the look of unbelieving joy on his face will be engraved in my mind forever, his mouth was open in shock and his whole face was shining.

The uproar settled down for the agonizing final 34 seconds and then erupted again. It didn’t stop until all the players had left the ice and the television interviews had been concluded. At one point the “We’re number one!” chant died out for a few moments and the Canadians all began chanting ‘Spahsiba” (Thanks) to let the Russians know how we had appreciated their hospitality and good sportsmanship.

Soon Canadian fans packed the halls of the arena singing 0’ Canada, chanting: “We’re number one!” and laughing like a bunch of lunatics. Our group danced the first few hundred feet away from the rink and then we spontaneously began to run leaping into the air and screaming at the top of our lungs.

Leaping Like Gazelles

Ordinarily a run of 100 yards would put me in critical condition but we ran about a half a mile, leaping like gazelles and screaming all the way. I even got a few blasts out of the bugle.

By the time we hit the buses, the Foxes Four were pretty well screamed out and the realization of the victory was beginning to settle into our bones. Everybody kept grasping each other in a firm handshake and again spontaneously the grip was different. instead of the knuckles pointing down as usual, they pointed up in the position for arm wrestling.

Since some 90 different buses carried the Canadians to hotels all over the city, there was no common party but hundreds of separate parties in dozens of hotels. The Fox 4 party had to be one of the best since we had planned it in advance and had even stocked up on orange juice and various other party goodies.

Lots Of Noise

We were making a lot of noise at first and the hotel people got a bit worried but gradually the people who might have been disturbed joined the party. The Yugoslavs in particular were welcome because they made several very flowery speeches about how happy they were that we won and what a great hockey team we have.

People finally began to drop out from exhaustion and the halls filled with happy, weary Canadians ambling back to their rooms for a couple of hours sleep before leaving the next day.

The next morning, as we left, it was snowing in Red Square.

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