ABERCROMBIE, NS — Gerald Marshall will be remembered by many Truro and area hockey fans as part of one of the community’s greatest hockey triumphs as assistant coach of the Truro TSN Senior Bearcats, national champions of the Allan Cup in 1998.
Few knew he was one of 3,000 Canadians in attendance at Moscow’s Luzhniki Ice Palace when Paul Henderson slammed his own rebound, past legendary Vladislav Tretiak, to give Canada a 6-5 victory over the Soviet Union in the game. eight and victory in the 1972 seminal highs series.
“I didn’t think it was 50 years ago until you mentioned it,” Marshall said, when asked to reflect on the journey he’s made on his own, as a 19-year-old high school graduate in the fall of 1972. .
“I remember they were (disappointed), but they showed no emotion,” Marshall said of Soviet fans watching Henderson’s exploits with just 34 games left on the clock. . “They were obviously disappointed, but they were hard to read.”
They weren’t as difficult to read outside the confines of the Ice Palace and intense games, Marshall said. Contrary to what Cold War propaganda may have claimed at the time, Marshall said he found the Soviet people warm.
“They were great,” he said. “People on the streets of Moscow and we went to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), I found the people very friendly.”
Marshall said his hotel not only hosts many other Canadian fans, but it’s also where Team Canada players, coaches and staff stay.
“I mingled with them, day after day,” he said. “They had their own side room but basically they ate with us. I also had a few drinks with some of them.
Marshall said Pat Stapleton, a star defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks at the time of his inclusion on Team Canada, stands out as one of the most social guys he would interact with. Stapleton, as he eventually became known, grabbed the puck as the horn sounded to end the final game.
“Yeah, and their players didn’t like it,” Marshall said of a widely accepted custom in North America. “But it was one to keep.”
Another player on the team he’s come to know even better in recent years, while spending his winters in Florida, is Rod Seiling who was on the New York Rangers’ blue line run in 1972.
“I see it all the time in Florida,” he said. “We golf together sometimes.”
Marshall remembers doing a bit of media with the Truro Daily News after arriving home and a conference at the Rotary Club.
“I don’t regret it for a minute…it’s a memory for life,” he said of his decision to use a scholarship to leave. “I met a lot of good people and the culture there was completely different.”
He said there were no soft drinks and the beer tasted horrible.
“You couldn’t drink it,” he said. “And if you had a vodka, you had to mix it with champagne. They didn’t know what a hamburger was, what a soft drink was.
Marshall said there were a few small tours arranged, but they were warned not to go anywhere unsupervised.
“They said, ‘don’t go out alone, they don’t like it.’ They are the government You hear about the KGB and all that…boy, they were there in real life.
Back at the rink, he noticed at each section that there was a soldier with a machine gun.
“No wonder the Soviet (fans) didn’t scream or anything,” he said of the intimidating presence. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, but after the first game we got used to it.”
Asked about Henderson’s overall performance, he said the Maple Leafs forward didn’t necessarily stand out, despite his scoring exploits that extended beyond Game 8.
“I think the speed Canada had (stand out) and the Soviets were dirty, they certainly liked to use their sticks. It’s well documented and you can see it there.
Returning to the thought of fans’ closeness to Canadian players, Marshall spoke about his seat at Luzhniki.
“The biggest thrill for me, besides watching the games, every game, Bobby Orr,” he said, happily pointing to a chair a few feet away from him and referring to the player most considered the greatest. defender of the game. “That’s when he tore his knee and he couldn’t play…he was on the team, but couldn’t play. Every game he had the same seat and I had the same seat.