The Complete World Hockey Association

1979 All-Star Games


Edmonton Coliseum
Edmonton, Alberta
January 2, 4 & 5, 1979

The WHA formed an all-star squad to play a three-game set against the touring Moscow Dynamo team, all games to be played in Edmonton. The WHA was displeased that the Soviet Union sent a "second tier" team, which did not include the USSR's biggest stars from past series. The perceived weaker competition, plus a brutal snowstorm, kept the crowd low at the first game. Those who attended saw perhaps the most unique line in hockey history: 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky centering 50-year-old Gordie Howe and his son, Mark Howe. The trio accounted for three goals and five assists as the WHA took the first game.

In the second game, the Howe-Gretzky-Howe line put in two goals, while Mike Gartner and Morris Lukowich teamed to account for the other two scores as the WHA won again. Markus Mattsson was in nets, his first victory over any Soviet squad in his career, dating back to his club days as a teenager in Finland, a streak that grew to nearly 30 games. Mattsson was in goal again for the third game, which the WHA won, behind an even attack led by Mike Gartner's two assists.


WHA All-Stars

Coach: Larry Hillman (Winnipeg).

Goaltenders: Dave Dryden (Edmonton), Markus Mattsson (Winnipeg).

Defensemen: John Hughes, Paul Shmyr, Claire Alexander (Edmonton), Rob Ramage (Birmingham), Rick Ley (New England), Barry Long (Winnipeg).

Forwards: Robbie Ftorek, Mike Gartner, Peter Marsh, Rick Dudley (Cincinnati), Wayne Gretzky, Blair MacDonald (Edmonton), Serge Bernier, Real Cloutier, Marc Tardif (Quebec), Morris Lukowich, Peter Sullivan (Winnipeg), Dave Keon, Gordie Howe, Mark Howe (New England).


Moscow Dynamo

Coach: Vladimir Kiselyov, Pavel Zhiburtovich (assistant).

Goaltenders: Sergei Babariko, Vladimir Polupanov.

Defensemen: Vasili Payusov, Vitali Filippov, Alexander Filippov, Sergei Gimayev, Alexei Volchenkov, Vladimir Orlov, Mikhail Slipchenko.

Forwards: Viktor Shkurdyuk, Vladimir Vikulov, Alexander Lobanov, Alexander Volchkov, Pavel Yezovskikh, Vladimir Popov, Alexei Frolikov, Mikhail Shostak, Vladimir Golubovich, Vladimir Semyonov, Yevgeni Kotlov, Vladimir Devyatov, Sergei Tukmachyov, Vyacheslav Anisin.

Game 1 • January 2, 1979

WHA All-Stars 4, Moscow Dynamo 2

Moscow Dynamo200-2
WHA All-Stars112-4

1st period: 1. WHA: Gretzky (Mark Howe, Shmyr) 1:35; 2. MD: Frolikov (Tukmachyov, Fillippov) 14:20; 3. MD: Semyonov (Kotlov) 18:08.
2nd period: 4. WHA: Gretzky (G. Howe, Mark Howe) 16:29.
3rd period: 5. WHA: Mark Howe (Gretzky, G. Howe) 7:02; 6. WHA: Sullivan 19:51.
Shots: MD: 8-6-7—21, WHA: 12-8-10—30
Goaltenders: WHA: Dryden; MD: Babariko
Attendance: 8,038.

Game 2 • January 4, 1979

WHA All-Stars 4, Moscow Dynamo 2

Moscow Dynamo110-2
WHA All-Stars301-4

1st period: 1. WHA: Lukowich (Ftorek, Gartner) 2:26; 2. MD: Shostak (Filippov, Shkurdyuk) 7:38; 3. WHA: Mark Howe (G. Howe, Gretzky) 9:27; 4. WHA: Gartner (Lukowich, Sullivan) 16:51.
2nd period: 5. MD: Shkurdyuk (Lobanov) 19:44.
3rd period: 6. WHA: Gretzky (Ley) 5:45.
Shots: MD: 4-10-8—22, WHA: 17-8-12—37
Goaltenders: WHA: Mattsson; MD: Babariko
Attendance: 11,220.

Game 3 • January 5, 1979

WHA All-Stars 4, Moscow Dynamo 3

Moscow Dynamo201-3
WHA All-Stars310-4

1st period: 1. WHA: Lukowich (Gartner) 1:46; 2. WHA: Ramage (MacDonald, Keon) 6:41; 3. MD: Shkurdyuk (Anisin, Volchenkov) 11:02; 4. MD: Shostak (Slipchenko, Frolikov) 11:43; 5. WHA: Sullivan 18:29.
2nd period: 6. WHA: Bernier (Ley, Gartner) 14:03.
3rd period: 7. MD: Semyonov (Payusov, Lobanov) 13:12.
Shots: MD: 8-2-9—19, WHA: 13-11-5—29
Goaltenders: WHA: Mattsson; MD: Babariko
Attendance: 15,590.

MVP: None selected.

Moscow Dynamo also played four exhibition games during their tour of North America. The games were played during the last week of December, 1978. The results were:

New England 4, Moscow Dynamo 1
Moscow Dynamo 4, Edmonton 1
Quebec 5, Moscow Dynamo 4
Winnipeg 6, Moscow Dynamo 4

1978 Moscow Dynamo Summaries


All-Star Finn-ish to Remember • by Reyn Davis • The Sporting News • January 20, 1979

The mere nearness of the mighty Soviet Union is enough to intimidate a Finn in his own country, but not when the Finn is playing in the World Hockey Association.

Markus Mattsson is a 22-year-old Finn with the Winnipeg Jets. His hometown is Tampere and, since the age of 14, he's been playing Russian hockey teams, and losing.

He was 0-for-29 when he took to the ice wearing the red and white colors of the WHA all-stars.

And he played brilliantly, stopping 20 of 22 shots, as the all-stars defeated the No. 2 club in Russia, Moscow Dynamo, 4-2, in the second game of the three-game series in Edmonton.

Mattsson was back in goal 24 hours later, playing superbly again, as the all-stars completed a sweep of the series by beating the Dynamo, 4-3, before a crowd of 15,590.

"I'll never forget this," Mattsson said. "Never."

Another young player, Mike Gartner of the Cincinnati Stingers, was an imposing figure in the final game, setting up two goals as he hawked the Russians with his speed and muscle.

The all-stars also won the first game by a 4-2 margin. Three of the all-stars' goals were scored by the line of 50-year-old Gordie Howe, his 23-year-old son, Mark, and the 17-year-old whiz kid, Wayne Gretzky.

Unlike previous series against the Russians, this one was steeped in politics.

When the Russians left for home, they had received only $25,000, barely enough to cover a shopping trip to New York before stepping on an Aeroflot bound for Moscow.

The WHA was still holding $75,000, claiming the Dynamo team had breached its contract by leaving most of its top players at home.

By sending a weak Dynamo team, the WHA claimed the crowds would suffer, and they did. The first game attracted only 8,038 and, largely on the strength of the interest it created, a crowd of 11,220 came to the second. The hockey was good.

However, the WHA decided it would withhold full payment until it had a chance to see the lineup of the Soviet National team scheduled to play the National League all-stars in a Challenge Cup Series in New York in early February.

If the missing Dynamo players are there, the WHA will keep the money. If not, they'll pay.

The players in question are Alexander Maltsev, Valeri Vasiliev, Alexander Biljaletdinov, Vasili Pervukhin and the Golikov brothers, Alexander and Vladimir.

"This is the first time in five years that they've tried to trick me," said Ben Hatskin, the WHA's chairman of the board.

Meanwhile, the lean goaltender Mattsson, familiar with all of the Russian players after literally growing up together in European competition, did plenty of celebrating after his first victory ever over them.

"Usually," he said, "they scored six or seven or eight goals against me. I can remember them scoring 10, too. One time I was playing for our national junior team in Finland and we lost, 2-1. The next time we played them another goalie played for us and we lost, 16-1.

"I remember an old Finnish goaltender who always said, "You could fill the net with stones and the Russians would still score seven goals."

Other players also stood out for the WHA all-stars.

Rick Ley of the New England Whalers had a heyday, softening the Russians with punishing but clean bodychecks.

"We have been unable to counter the strong body play of the WHA," said the Dynamo assistant coach, Pavel Zhiburtovich.

Mark Howe, bursting with energy, speed and grace, was an imposing figure on the ice. Playing with his New England father- teammate, Gordie, and with Gretzky, the fair child of Edmonton, the multi-talented Mark led the line's charge and the Russians were barely able to cope with them.

The day before the all-star series began, Mark's father-in-law in Houston passed away after a long, losing battle with cancer.

To have skipped the series would have been understandable. But he didn't, arriving in Edmonton two hours before the first game.

Such dedication was not so obvious on the part of another young WHA star, Real Cloutier of the Quebec Nordiques.

He chose not to come to Edmonton, complaining of a sore back.

"If two points were at stake, he'd be here," said the Nordiques' coach, Jacques Demers.

The league-leading Nordiques were represented by only one player, Serge Bernier. Marc Tardif came to Edmonton but left for home with an inflamed elbow that had to be drained.

And there were three serious oversights on the part of the all-star organizing committee and the coaches and general managers who chose the players.

No one bothered to invite Andre Lacroix, the league's all-time leading scorer and currently No. 5 in the scoring. But his New England teammate, Dave Keon, was here and he’s No. 10 in the scoring race.

Also overlooked was big Kent Nilsson of the Winnipeg Jets. He's No. 6 in the scoring derby and excels against European competition.

Another grievous mistake was the failure to honor the man who made the WHA a major league. Bobby Hull was visiting his parents in Point Anne, Ont., and celebrating his 40th birthday when the WHA's top administrators and best players gathered for a week of all-star ceremonies and meetings.

But nary a word was said about the man who carried the league on his back through those earliest days. He retired in October and this was the WHA's first chance to honor him in a spectacular way.



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