(This story was originally published in the Daily News on January 11, 1976, when the Flyers beat the Soviet Central Army team at the Spectrum and essentially salvaged North American hockey pride in the process. The game was memorable for a lot of reasons, but mostly for an 18-minute walkout by the Soviets after a series of big Flyers hits, and team owner Ed Snider's threat not to pay them if they didn't come back and finish the game — which, not surprisingly, they did.

(With the word that a Flyers alumni team is heading to Russia for a series of games, and that it is possible Vladimir Putin himself might participate in one of them, it seemed a good time to remember the game that Flyers fans will never forget. Included is a video of the broadcast of the walkout, featuring Gene Hart and Marv Albert. By some accounts, Putin was a newly-minted KGB agent stationed in Leningrad when the game was played.)

Jimmy Watson’s eyes were as bright as a British Columbia moonlit night as he said, “I’ve never been so happy. This compares with winning the Stanley Cup.”
Dave Schultz pounded his bare chest near the heart and said, “We won it right here.” Gary Dornhoefer, whose new beard makes him look meaner than Rasputin, said, “It was a gutty performance by 20 guys.”
If it sounds like the Flyers felt proud and a bit boastful, you’re right. The showdown with the Soviet Central Army, the USSR hockey champions, received more attention than a Stanley Cup final. Or Super Bowl. With worldwide coverage focused on the Spectrum, the Flyers felt they had to win for themselves, the NHL, Canada and Mom’s apple pie.
“The fact that they had won the series vs. NHL teams didn’t mean anything unless they beat us,” said Bobby Kelly.
Well, the Flyers did win, 4-1. The Stanley Cup champions won in convincing style. Even the skeptical Soviet viewer sipping a 3 am Bloody Mary back in Moscow couldn’t deny the Flyers’ superiority for this one memorable and controversial meeting.
“They better go home and learn the game,” said Barry Ashbee. Ah, Barry, are you referring to the same team that embarrassed the New York Rangers, tied Montreal and beat Boston?
The Flyers’ control was clear from the start. The Soviets began with a snappy series of 20-foot passes in their zone that drew oohs of admiration from the supercharged crowd. Then a strange thing happened: When the Soviets tried to penetrate the Berlin Wall at the Flyers’ blue line, their attack vanished.
“They could pass the pass all they wanted in their zone,” said Dornhoefer. “We wouldn’t chase them like they wanted. That and the fact we didn’t shoot until we were certain we had good shots were the key to the game. I’d say it was absolutely our best effort of the season.”
On Saturday night the Soviet Wings had edged the Islanders, 2-1. Denis Potvin, the Islanders’ All-Star defenseman, who served as a television analyst yesterday, said his club was tighter than a vodka-filled diplomat.
“We had heard about how they kick and spear, so we stood around waiting for them to do it,” said Potvin.
The Flyers weren’t as cautious. Sticks, especially those of Ed Van Impe and Andre “Moose” Dupont, were up from the opening face-off. However, it wasn’t a stick jab that triggered the stunning walkout by the Soviets at 11:21 of the first period with the score 0-0.
With Van Impe sitting out a hooking penalty, Dupont jolted Alexander Gusev with a body check. Bill Barber thudded into Valeri Vasilyev, then sent leading scorer Valeri Kharlamov crashing into the boards. Moments later, Van Impe left the penalty box, skated directly for Kharlamov in the Flyers’ zone and crumpled him to the ice with what was either a charge, elbow or clean check, depending upon who was consulted.
When referee Lloyd Gilmour failed to whistle Van Impe back to the penalty box, then assessed the Soviets a delay of game penalty, Coach Konstantin Loktev gestured angrily at Gilmour before waving his team to the dressing room. Most Flyers thought the 18-minute strike was premeditated.
“They were trying to shake us up,” said Jimmy Watson. “They should know we’re used to pressure. There isn’t anything that bothers us.”
“I guess they thought they’d upset us,” said Orest Kindrachuk. “Well, we took a few shots, then came in here, took off our skates and relaxed. We weren’t going anywhere. We live here.”
“The delay sure didn’t hurt us,” said Bobby Clarke. “We scored 20 seconds later.” (Reg Leach scored 17 seconds after the unscheduled intermission, deflecting a Bill Barber power-play shot past overworked Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak. Meanwhile, the crowed chanted, “Hit ‘em again, harder.”)
“I didn’t think we were that rough,” said Clarke. “We just dominated them.”
The only Soviet goal was a 40-foot slap shot by Victor Kutyergin that eluded Wayne Stephenson midway in the period. Larry Goodenough scored the final Flyers goal at 4:01 of the third period, taking a pass from Clarke during a power-play dash from the right point.
The outcome was decided by then, but Stephenson removed any doubts when he stopped a Boris Mikhalov two-on-one shot with 3:23 to play.
Jimmy Watson, Potvin’s All-Star defense partner, wasn’t ready to claim a world championship. But Watson did sum up the Flyers’ feelings when he said:
“I think we proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re a better club.”
Banners reading: “God Bless America, God Save Jewry” and “May We Live in Peace, Let Soviet Jews Live in Peace” were removed before game time when the Soviets objected.
Coach Fred Shero was his usual excitable self: “I feel the same as I did after we beat Boston (for the Stanley Cup). I don’t feel anything now, but I probably will tomorrow.”
When board chairman Ed Snider burst through the press delegation to tell Shero “that was the greatest coaching job I’ve ever seen,” Shero smiled and said, “I had a lot of help.”
Flyers management chose to play Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” rather than the national anthem, as if the emotional crowd and the Flyers needed extra encouragement.