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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

The Collingwood Connection

Fred

By Fred Wallace

 Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire "

 

The National Hockey League awarded a 32nd franchise last week, settling on Seattle for the the start of the 2021 hockey season.

Of course most of the immediate focus was on the Seattle Metropolitans who won the Stanley Cup more than 100 years ago in 1917, the first American team to do so.

But in my mind I seemed to recall a Seattle Totems pro hockey team that appeared on an edition of " Truth or Consequences " with Bob Barker when I was a kid.

So, 50 years later, I Googled the Seattle Totems and read a fascinating story.

In the early 1970's, the Totems played host to the touring Soviet Red Army team, which was a rarity for that time in world and sports history.

The first meeting between the two clubs was on Christmas Night 1972.

Not surprisingly, the Red Army squad, whose players formed the bulk of the Russian National team that nearly stunned the NHL's best players only a few months earlier in the Summit Series, beat the Totems convincingly 9-4.

The Russians did so without the use of legendary netminder Vladislav Tretiak who was given the night off.

The story gets more intriguing a little more than a year later when the Red Army returned to Seattle, January 4th, 1974.

For this matchup, Red Army scratched the line of Shadrin, Yakushev and Maltsev, as well as top defender, Vladimir Luchenko.

Tretiak though played goal for the Russians.....and got lit up for 8 goals against as the Totems doubled Red Army 8-4.

The most remarkable part of the story to me was the star of the game that night for the Seattle Totems was Collingwood's Don Westbrooke who fired a hat trick.

Westbrooke, who passed away a little more than 2 years ago, is celebrated in the Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame for winning the Rookie of The Year, the MVP Award and the Top Scorer during his years in the IHL.

He was inducted into the Collingwood Hall in 1984.

And while Don Westbrooke's hockey career is filled with memories and milestones, I now know that he's the ONLY 

North American player to ever score 3 goals in a game against Vladislav Tretiak....think about that !!

I'm sure the NHL will thrive in Seattle come 2021, but outside of the 1917 Stanley Cup, Seattle's most significant hockey moment likely was produced by Don Westbrooke of Collingwood.

 

I'm Fred Wallace

 

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