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Olympic Hockey – The Early Years Trivia
Disguised as a winter sporting event, the first World Championship games were an exhibition event at the 1920 Summer Olympics. One condition was that if hockey was played, figure skating had to be included. Sweden blanked host Belgium 8 – 0 on April 23, 1920 in Antwerp in game #1. Bill Hewitt refereed the first hockey game. Kristmundur “Chris” Fridfinnson scored the goal that gave Canada its first Olympic Gold medal. Einar Svenson scored the first goal against Canada in an Olympic competition. Taking a 3 – 0 lead, Svenson scored for the Swedes at 15:58 of the first half. It should be noted that the first Olympic hockey games were divided into 2 – 20 minute halves.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – United States… Bronze – Czechoslovakia
1924: The 1924 Winter Olympics, officially known as the First Winter Olympics, were held in Chamonix, France. The original name of Semaine des Sports d’Hiver is “International Winter Sports Week” and it was held in connection with the 1924 Summer Olympics, the sports competitions held at the foot of Mont Blanc in Chamonix, Haute-Savoie between January 25th and February 5th . Harry Watson played 5 matches and scored a hat trick in every match. In a fast start, Harry scored a total of 11, 13 and 6 goals – 3 games in three days. After a day off, Watson scored hat-tricks against Great Britain and the USA in medal competition. Still the scoring record…36 goals for the tournament. Canada shared 17 hat tricks between 4 players. After representing the USA in the 1924 Olympics, Al “Frenchy” Lacroix became George Vezina’s backup with the Canadiens. Lacroix released a Vezina during the 1925 – 26 season. Alphonse Albert Lacroix was from Newton, Massachusetts.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – United States… Bronze – Great Britain
1928: At the 1928 Olympics, Canada’s Gold Medal winners completely “shut out” the opposition. Represented by the USA Toronto Grads, Canada eclipsed the European opposition three times straight. Because of their well-known superiority, Canada got an automatic “bye” to the medal round. They claimed Gold by blanking Sweden 11 – 0, Great Britain 14 – 0 and Switzerland 13 – 0. Dr. Joe Sullivan recorded the shutouts in games #1 and #3. “Stuffy” Mueller blanked Great Britain. Future Montreal Maroons teammates Hugh Plaxton and Dave Trottier led the Canadian scoring with 12 goals each. Although not behind the bench, Conn Smythe was awarded a Gold Medal at the 1928 Olympics. Two Canadian players, Hugh Plaxton and Joe Sullivan, lobbied to have their relatives on the 1928 Olympic team. Smythe did not agree . Added Frank Sullivan, Roger and Bert Plaxton. The players won the dispute. They went for the Gold. Conn Smythe stayed home. Manager Bill Hewitt was left in charge of the Canadian squad.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – Sweden… Bronze – Switzerland
1932: The rules regarding the amateur status of players competing in Olympic tournaments were very strict. Once again the USA Olympic Committee folded amateur versus professional rules in 1932. Before the Lake Placid games the USA team played the Boston Bruins. The US Olympic team received the receipts from the game. The Americans claimed they could not afford to travel to the games if they did not receive the revenue. The Canadians refused to file a protest. The opening face-off of the 1932 Olympic game between Canada and the United States was postponed. Before the action, US goalkeeper Frank Farrell’s pads were strapped so tight they were within the legal width. When the goalkeeper’s knees were together the pads could not be wider than 20 inches. The system of the two referees was accepted. Only two men officiated all the fights…Canadian Lou Marsh and Don Sands from the United States. The tournament was a double round-robin series. The teams played periods of 3 – 15 minutes.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – United States… Bronze – Germany
1936: The Port Arthur Bearcats were chosen as Canada’s representatives in the 1936 Olympics by default. The usual procedure was that the previous years’ Allan Cup champions would be the Canadian team of choice. However the 1935 Halifax Wolverines lost most of their key players after their Allan Cup victory. It’s impossible to create a competitive team, and the Olympic committee chose the Bearcats as runners-up. Canada’s Olympic streak reached 20 before suffering their first loss. Following 3 wins in Group “A”, the Canadian team was defeated by Great Britain 2 – 1. February 10, 1936 – Chirp Brenchley scored the winner at 13:48 of the third period. Carl Erhardt was the oldest player to win an Olympic Gold medal for hockey. Born 15 February 1897, Erhardt was captain of the 1936 Olympic champions. Carl was 39 years old at the time.
MEDALS: GOLD – GREAT BRITAIN… Silver – Canada… Bronze – United States of America
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