Think you now know everything about the 1972 Canada-U.S.S.R. Summit Series? Think again, Smirnoff breath.

The Canadian American Business Council hosted a screening Wednesday night in Toronto at the Hockey Hall of Fame of the new documentary “Ice-breaker: The ’72 Summit Series.” After a series of cross-country screenings, the 90-minute film premieres December 27 exclusively on Super Channel Fuse.

The film tells the story of the eight-game Canada vs. the U.S.S.R. hockey tournament from the point of view of Cold War diplomacy. That’s because it is based on “Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series.” The book is written by an insider, former ambassador Gary J. Smith, a Russian-speaking Canadian who worked at the Canadian embassy in Moscow during the time of the tournament.

Smith, who describes himself as a “beer league” player at the time (there’s a shot of him in the book hoisting a case of Molson’s during a skate) helped negotiate the tournament. Smith’s insider knowledge came in handy even during the series. When it came time to choose the referees for the crucial final game, for example, he recognized the Russian officials lobbying hard for the horribly biased West German referees as KGB officers. The Canadians managed to bench one offside zebra but had to live with the other.

Beard Summit: With Terry Mosher (left)

Smith was at the Toronto screening along with one of the heroes of ’72, Montreal Canadiens great Yvan Cournoyer. The speedy Habs captain, known as “The Road Runner,” won ten Stanley Cups! Another special guest was Terry “Aislin” Mosher, The great Montreal Gazette editorial cartoonist. He has no Stanley Cup rings but has won two more National Newspaper Awards than Cournoyer. He was in Moscow — posing as a photographer — for the four games at the Palace of Sports. His incredible drawings are available in a new bound volume titled, “Montreal to Moscow: 1972 Summit Series Cartoons and Anecdotes.”

Ron MacLean, who opens the documentary and also sums things up at the end, was also at the Hall of Fame event, as was another great cartoonist, Brian Gable from The Globe and Mail. Also contributing insights as part of the doc are Wayne Gretzky, Margaret Trudeau and Alan Eagleson. Yes, the Eagle. Hey, every good show needs a hissable villain.


The film was directed by Robbie Hart and executive produced by Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures (above). I’ll have more on this documentary in posts and a podcast as the TV premiere approaches.

Updated with corrections December 19, 2022.

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