Canadians retain invincible ice hockey aura

Picture by IOC

As would be the case until 1956, Canada was represented in the ice hockey competition by the club that had earlier won the Allan Cup, the country’s amateur championship. After the successes of the Winnipeg Falcons at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, the Toronto Granites at Chamonix 1924 and the Toronto Varsity Blues at St. Moritz 1928, it was the turn of Winnipeg Hockey Club to keep the North Americans’ incredible run going in 1932.

Due to the Great Depression, which prevented numerous national selections from making the trip to Lake Placid, just four teams entered the tournament: Canada, Germany, Poland, and the United States. “These conditions steadily grew worse as the closing date for national entries approached,” stated the official report.

In order to increase the number of encounters from 12 (all teams played each other twice within a single pool, in a format titled “double round robin”), it was decided that a series of gala games between the four national teams and two clubs, Montreal-based McGill University and Lake Placid Athletic Club, would be organised in parallel.

This ruling gave rise to a unique event on 11 February, when the Canadian and US teams merged for their game with Lake Placid. All of the players taking part pulled on the American jersey, although the Canadian representatives were distinguishable by their stockings. “This exhibition clash was one of the best games on the entire Olympic card,” noted the report. The unique USA-Canada side pulled off an entertaining and spectacular 3-2 victory, in a game played in an excellent spirit.

The Olympic tournament itself was held at two venues – six games took place outdoors in the Olympic Stadium, which boasted two hockey rinks, and six were played indoors at the purpose-built Olympic arena. The Canadians again demonstrated their superiority, as they had done in St. Moritz in 1928, where they notched 38 goals and conceded just one.

In their first fixture on 4 February the Winnipeg-based players, bearing a large “W” on the front of their jerseys, were tested to the full by a talented US team, but eventually emerged as 2-1 winners in overtime. Two days later, the Canadians saw off Germany 4-1, before going on to comfortably defeat Poland (9-0), Germany again (5-0) and then Poland once more (10-0).

On 13 February the second encounter between Canada and the USA, regarded as the unofficial final, generated great interest among the public, as the official report recounted: “The final game literally packed the Olympic arena. No one can estimate how many additional tickets could have been sold if there had been any room in which to put their purchasers.”

Douglas Everett (USA) opened the scoring for the hosts just two minutes into the first period, before Hack Simpson (CAN) equalised for the reigning champions in the ninth minute. Winthrop Palmer restored the Americans’ lead in the second period, only for Romeo Rivers to draw the Canadians back level almost immediately. Even after three overtime periods, the score did not deviate from 2-2, and for the first time in Olympic history, Canada had failed to win.

Despite this setback, the Canadians still ended the 1932 tournament as worthy champions, having won five and drawn one of their six games, equating to a total of 11 points and a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal since Antwerp 1920. The United States (four wins, one loss, one draw, nine points) gained a third silver medal and Germany (two wins, four losses, four points) took bronze, a feat they would not repeat until Innsbruck 1976.