Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

September 22, 2012

HOPKINS: A super series offered a super opportunity

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “Bill, when are you going to write the damn book?”

That question, posed by our city editor Scott Leffler, was aimed at veteran US&J reporter Bill Wolcott. He had just concluded one of his stories about his trip behind the Iron Curtain — the communist one, not the Pittsburgh one — and we were floored.

Floored, because some of Bill’s experiences were simply incredible. He could write a book, and not about the series itself; plenty has already been written. However, what he witnessed in 1972 Moscow is probably the equivalent of what on wold see in 2012 North Korea.

Bill had asked me a couple of months ago if he could write something about the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Canada Cup. He was one of a very limited number of reporters who covered the event from start to finish.

Although there were star Canadian players on every U.S. team, none of the dailies sent reporters. Not from New York City. Not from Philadelphia. No one from Detroit or Chicago. But Bill Wolcott, from the Niagara Falls Gazette, was there from start to finish.

What you’ll see starting today and continuing through Thursday are little snippets of Bill’s memories. Some are fascinating, others humorous. Others are simply recollections of the international hockey tournament that pitted the National Hockey League’s best against the “amateur” Soviet Red Army.

Amateur is in quotes for a reason: the only job these athletes had with the army was to play hockey.

And they were good at it. Very good.

So good, that they began beating the hockey pants off every team that challenged them. They became a threat to Canada’s heritage.

Canadians probably began to have feelings toward the Soviets that had been harbored by Americans since the early 1950s. Apprehension. Fear. Probably a little hatred.

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