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Once again the international spotlight shines on Buffalo. Unfortunately, a sorry image of our hockey team was exposed. A Sabres loss to a Soviet team on an "exhibition" tour is not nearly as upsetting as the way the game was played.

The fact that the Sabres are going through a very frustrating period manifested itself in a serious of ugly incidents that should never have occurred. A two-handed slash by (Jay) Wells, and an elbow by (Brad) Miller drawing blood were called penalties. The game was also marred by high sticks, tripping and cross-checking numerous times, once during a goal celebration by a Soviet player.

All this was seen by the referee. In fact, the Soviets were actually called for too many men on the ice.

So much for even-ups.

The Soviets did not initiate any of this, nor did they retaliate. If the Sabres are so frustrated, why don't they beat up on the Bruins or the Canadiens?

The Soviet Goodwill Tour is intended to give the fans a sample of the Soviet style of play, and make for an exciting game. Instead we were treated to an abomination. The ugliest side of North American hockey.

One of the most exciting games I have ever watched was the Red Army game of two years ago. Our best against their best. Then came the public relations disaster of last year's Dynamo Moscow game, where the fans who expected to see our best against their best at the last minute were forced to watch a cheap imitation in the form of the Rochester impersonators. And now this!

There was no sportsmanship nor the traditional handshake at the end of the game and I, for one, am happy the Soviets won.
(Send comments to Letters to the Sports Editor, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Letters should be limited to 250 words and are subject to editing. Submissions must be signed and include address and telephone number for verification. Unsigned letters will not be published.)

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