On September 15, 1987 Mario Lemieux scored a game winning goal for Team Canada to defeat the Soviet Union in the third and final game of the Canada Cup Finals. One of the greatest international hockey games of all time the goal cemented Lemieux’s folk hero status in Canada and acted as a moment when fans began to view Lemieux as the face of the NHL rather than Wayne Gretzky, the sports biggest star of the previous decade. If you’ve never seen it flip to any point in the video or watch the whole thing if you have the time because it is truly a masterpiece of a game.
The 6 team Canada Cup tournament was a who’s who of international hockey greats as it allowed players from the NHL to compete against players who lived and played in soviet controlled countries. Two of the teams, Czechoslovakia and the USSR, were communists regimes. With the cold war still in play the Americans looked to regain the glory the had found in 1980 after beating the Russians in the Lake Placid Olympics. However the USA went 2-0-3 and placed 5th, not in contention for the championship. Team USA was coached by Bob Johnson who would coach the Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory just years later.
Penguins in the 1987 Canada Cup included Mario Lemieux, Rick Tocchet, Larry Murphy, and Paul Coffey with Team Canada. Jiri Hrdina representing the 4th place Czechoslovakia. As well as Team USA’s Joe Mullen, Kevin Hatcher, Ed Olczyk, and Tom Barrasso.