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The Soviets were once again soaring over the hockey world after they disarmed Team Canada 8-1 in the final game of September's Canada Cup. Here, Forward Sergei Shepelev launches himself to score one of his three goals in the Soviet rout. The defeat was an embarrassment for Team Canada, which featured most of the NHL's biggest stars, including the line of Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy of the Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders, and Wayne Gretzky, the wunderkind of the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky was at the forefront of the NHL's Children's Crusade. He and his young Oiler teammates humiliated the venerable Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Another puckish crew, the Minnesota North Stars, upset Boston, Buffalo and Calgary to advance to the finals against the Islanders, who had beaten Toronto, Edmonton and the Rangers. In the finals, the Islanders, led by Butch Goring's five goals, won the Cup for the second straight season by beating Minnesota four games to one.

All Gretzky (near right) did at the tender age of 20 was win the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP for the second year in a row in only his second year in the NHL; score a record 164 points (2.05 a game!), with 55 goals, including this one; lead the Oilers to a three-game sweep of the Canadiens in the playoffs; and cause Anatoly Tarasov, the father of Soviet hockey, to gush, "Smartest player I have ever seen."

Another prodigious scorer was Bossy (far right), shown celebrating his 50th goal in his 50th game. He thus became the second player to accomplish that feat—Maurice Richard did it first in 1944-45. In December, the Great Gretzky KO'd Richard and Bossy from the record books when he scored his 50th goal—also his fifth in a game against Philadelphia—in just 39 games. Bossy wound up the 1980-81 regular season with a league-high 68 goals, then scored a record 35 points in the Cup playoffs.