Damn, summer is about to start… the temperatures of these days make us feel that we’re getting closer and closer to the so-called “fantastic” summer season and at the same time we’re getting farther and farther to the ice, the sticks, the skates and the beautiful coolness of the ice rinks.
Ok guys, that’s only our personal opinion… we’re not summer lovers 🙂
But the truth is that there are only few of the Stanley Cup final games to play… but in fact, ice hockey went dormant and will be dormant for about two more months. Two months during which, however, the teams and the players are not totally lethargic but are preparing themselves in view of the 2019-20 season.
But in practice, for ice hockey passionates there will be two endless months during which all we can do is to start a countdown at least for the first summer friendlies.
But… what about playing ice hockey in summer? Well, it’s impossible now. But it wasn’t impossible in the past! Right becasue, curiously enough, the first Olympic tournament – that served also as the first World Championship – was played during the 1920 summer Olympic games!
Ok, ok, let’s be clear… the 1920 summer Olympic games were held in Antwerp (Belgium) from August 14th until September 12th… Previously, however, always in the same Belgian city, the ice hockey and figure skating competitions took place between April 23rd and April 30th!
Nowadays, it’s incredible to think about it. Usually in fact, between the 23rd and 30th of April there are leagues in which teams are still playing… and the World Ice Hockey Championship starts after the first decade of May.
But now, during this first – unbearable and endless 🙁 – summer days… even only thinking that in the past an ice hockey tournament was played during the Summer Olympics (the Winter ones weren’t existing), makes us feel a little bit more fresh.
Let’s see how things went back then…
ICE HOCKEY AT THE 1920 SUMMER OLYMPICS
99 years have passed, basically a century! Ice hockey was quite different than today…
THE FIRST ARENA
No vip area… no laser show… no scoreboard or “kiss cam”… only an ice rink with dasherboards. Yet, we’re pretty sure that the participants had fun.
The “Palace de Glace d’Anvers” was located near Antwerp’s botanic garden.
On that ice, each team could play with 7 players… the goalie, two defensemen, three forwards and the “rover”.
The “rover”, unlike all the other roles, didn’t have a set position, and roamed the ice at will, going where needed. Moreover, he was the one who took face-offs.
It was, however, a role that didn’t last very long… it was used between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. In 1910, the NHA (National Hockey Association) decided to exclude the “rover” and also the NHL did in 1917.
During the 1920 Olympics, however, the “rover” was used and therefore that tournament was the only one ever played with the “rover”… a role that was defintively abandoned in 1923.
The games lasted only 40 minutes – two periods of 20 minutes each – and there were no substitutions. In fact, if a player got injured the other team was required to sit one of their own.
We mean, that was quite a different ice hockey 🙂
But how did that tournament go?
ICE HOCKEY OLYMPIC TOURNAMENT 1920
60 players of 7 countries fought for the gold.
We’re talking about the teams that were part of the LIHG (Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace)… United States, Canada, Belgium, France, Sweden, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. The other two teams who were part of the LIHG, Austria and Germany, didn’t take part in the competition as a consequence of WW1.
To note that Canada was represented by the Winnipeg Falcons… and 7 of their 8 players had Icelandic origins. The nickname “Falcons” was chosen right because the “Falcon” is a symbol of Iceland, where the the “Order of Falcon” is a high honor.
And the Falcons, sorry Canada, made it all the way the won the gold medal!
It was clear to everyone that United States and Canada were playing at a totally different level. Let’s see the tournament results.
GOLD – CANADA
SILVER – UNITED STATES
BRONZE – CZECHOSLOVAKIA
The tournament’s rules were particular. Firstly, the teams faced each other in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final. With the Canadians who put the gold medal around their neck.
During the gold medal final, the Canadians earned a 12-1 win against Sweden thanks to the goals scored by Fredrickson (7), Halderson (2), Goodman, Benson and Fridfinnson. Instead, Svensson scored the consolation goal for the Swedes.
The three teams who had previously lost against Canada, faced each other to establish the winner of the silver medal… Czechoslovakia (why?!) received a bye into the silver medal game. But United States won the medal.
The three teams who had previously lost against United States and/or Canada, faced each other to establish the winner of the bronze medal. Once again (?!) Czechoslovakia received a bye into the bronze medal game… a game that the Czech won and therefore allowed them to traval back home with a bronze medal around their neck.
TRIVIA SWITZERLAND AT THE 1920 OLYMPICS
Switzerland played in Antwerpen with the youngest and the oldest players of the tournament. The youngest one was Louis Dafour Jr., who was 18 years and 272 days. The oldest one instead, was Max Sillig, who was 46 years and 155 days.
The Swiss didn’t have a great success. They played two games and lost both. Overall, they didn’t score any goal and conceded 33.
The players who were part of the Swiss National Team:
Well, what can we say? Whoever loves hot weather now can enjoy it. We instead, who barely cope with it, we try to refresh ourselves – at least psychologically – thinking about ice hockey. And thinking that, even though the first international tournament was played in April, at least once the words “summer” and “ice hockey” were synonyms.
See you soon, guys 🙂
For your information… that was the first and only time that the ice hockey Olympic tournament was played during the “Summer Olympics”. Starting from 1924 in fact, in Chamonix, ice hockey was always part of the “Winter Olympics” program.
You can see some hockey of the 1924 tournament starting from minute 09:10 of the following video 🙂
All the information collected to write this article are from: