13 Aug Olympic Hockey – The Early Years Trivia
Disguised as winter sport event, the first World Championship games were a demonstration event at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games. One stipulation was that, if hockey was played, figure skating had to be included. Sweden blanked the host Belgium team 8 – 0 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 Olympic competition. Nursing 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 Olympic Winter Games, were held in Chamonix, France. Originally called Semaine des Sports d’Hiver “International Winter Sports Week” and held in association 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 games and scored a hat trick in each contest. Off to a fast start, Harry scored totals 11, 13 and 6 goals – 3 games in three days. After a day off, Watson scored hat tricks against Great Britain and the U.S.A. in medal competition. Still a scoring total record…36 goals for the tournament. Canada divided 17 hat tricks amongst 4 players. After representing the U.S.A. in the 1924 Olympic Games, Al “Frenchy” Lacroix became George Vezina’s backup with the Canadiens. Lacroix relieved Vezina during the 1925 – 26 season. Alphonse Albert Lacroix hailed from Newton, Massachusetts.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – United States… Bronze – Great Britain
1928: At the 1928 Olympics, the Canadian Gold Medal winners completely “shutout” the opposition. Represented by the U. of Toronto Grads, Canada blanked the European opposition three straight. Because of their well known superiority, Canada was given an automatic “bye” into 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. Despite not being behind the bench, Conn Smythe was awarded a Gold Medal at the 1928 Olympics. Two of Canada’s players, Hugh Plaxton and Joe Sullivan, lobbied to get their relatives on the 1928 Olympic team. Smythe did not agree. Frank Sullivan, Roger and Bert Plaxton were added. 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 at Olympic tournaments were very strict. Once again the U.S. Olympic Committee bent the rules of amateur vs. professional in 1932. Before the Lake Placid games the U.S. team played the Boston Bruins. The U.S. Olympic team received the receipts from the game. The Americans claimed that they could not afford to travel to the games if they did not accept the revenue. The Canadians declined to file a protest. The opening face-off of the 1932 Olympic matchup Canada vs. U.S. was delayed. Prior to the action, U.S. goaltender Frank Farrell had his goalie pads strapped so tightly that they were within the legal width. When the goalie’s knees were together the pads could not be wider than 20 inches. The two referee system was accepted. Only two men officiated all contests…Canada’s Lou Marsh and Don Sands from the United States. The tournament was a double round-robin series. The teams played 3 – 15 minute periods.
MEDALS: GOLD – CANADA… Silver – United States… Bronze – Germany
1936: The Port Arthur Bearcats were chosen as Canada’s representatives in the 1936 Olympic Games by default. The usual procedure was that the previous years Allan Cup champions would be Canada’s team of choice. However the 1935 Halifax Wolverines lost most of their top players after their Allan Cup victory. Impossible to assemble a competitive team, the Olympic committee chose the runner-up Bearcats. Canada’s Olympic streak reached 20 before suffering their first defeat. Following 3 wins in Group “A”, the Canadian squad were upended 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 February 15, 1897, Erhardt was captain of the 1936 Olympic champions. Carl was 39 years of age at the time.
MEDALS: GOLD – GREAT BRITAIN… Silver – Canada… Bronze – United States