On this day in 1975, a crowd of 17,500 ice hockey fans watch HC CSKA (also called the Central Red Army) from the Soviet Union defeat the New York Rangers 7-3 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game marked the kick-off of the first so-called “Super Series”–a series of mid-season exhibition games between Soviet and National Hockey League (NHL) teams held from 1975 to 1991, inspired by the popularity of the 1972 Summit Series played between the Soviet National Team and a Team Canada made up of NHL stars.
The Soviet Union was represented in the Super Series by the Central Red Army and the Soviet Wings, while the North American teams participating were the Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers (against the Red Army) and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Black Hawks and New York Islanders (against the Wings). Just three nights after the Red Army’s defeat of the Rangers, they took on the Canadiens in a New Year’s Eve match-up many consider one of the greatest hockey games ever played. The Canadiens (who would go on to win the Stanley Cup for the 1975-76 season) had a punishing defense anchored by goalie Ken Dryden, and the Red Army managed only 13 shots on goal. In contrast, the Soviet goalie, Vladislav Tretiak, faced 38 shots, but still managed to lead his team to a 3-3 tie. All in all, the Soviet teams dominated the 1975-76 Super Series with a record of five wins, two losses (to the Flyers and the Sabres) and one tie.