KREFELD, West Germany — March 6, 1955
When the 1955 World Championship started in West Germany in late February of that year, the Penticton Vees, Canada's representatives, were expected not just to win gold but to restore pride to a nation that had been humiliated on the international stage the previous year for the first time in 35 years of participation. It was in 1954 that the Soviets played in their first World Championship, and at that time they claimed the gold medal ahead of the Canadians with a 7-2 win on the final day.
All of Canada had a year to wait for revenge, and the 1955 World Championship was so important that the legendary announcer Foster Hewitt left his gondola at Maple Leaf Gardens during the height of the NHL season to fly to Germany and do the radio play-by-play for the championship. As the tournament progressed, the games went according to form: for every Canadian win, the Soviets also won. Clearly the last game of the tournament, between these two nations, would again determine the world champion.
Yet on that final night, in Krefeld, the Canadians did, indeed, reclaim what they felt was rightfully theirs, hammering the Soviets, 5-0. Goalie Ivan McLelland got the shutout, and the team was led by the three Warwick brothers — Grant, Bill, and Dick. Grant also coached the team. He had played in the NHL but later in his career he left the league and re-acquired his amateur status. This was the crowning glory of his career, and as brother Bill said told Hewitt after the game, "Boy, this was better than winning the Stanley Cup," he expressed the importance of the victory back home. Nonetheless, the game established once and for all a rivalry that has produced many of international hockey's greatest moments. Canada vs. Soviet Union — it doesn't get much better today, and it didn't get any better half a century ago, either.
To this very day, Canada has never managed to win against the Soviet Union/Russia by a higher score in an official men's championship game.
As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.
The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.
These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.