On National Indigenous Peoples Day, respect to Kenneth Moore, Peepeekisis First Nation, who played fleet right wing for Winnipeg when they won the hockey championship representing Canada at the wintry 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Born in 1910 near Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Moore is recognized as the first Indigenous athlete to win Olympic gold. He got into the line-up for Canada’s penultimate game on Lake Placid ice, scoring a goal in the team’s 10-0 win over Poland. Moore’s hockey resumé also includes a 1930 Abbott Cup (Western Canadian Junior championship), which he won playing the Regina Pats; a 1930 Memorial Cup (Moore scored the goal that secured the championship over the West Toronto Nationals); and a pair of Allan Cup championships, in 1932 with Winnipeg and in 1936 with the Kimberley Dynamiters. Kenneth Moore died in 1981 at the age of 71.
There was no miracle on the ice at Lake Placid on this date in 1932, just the same old same-old: Canada won Olympic gold.
But it was close.
For the first time in four Olympic hockey tournaments spanning 12 years and 17 games, a Canadian team failed to register a win. That Saturday 90 years ago, the best Canada’s team could manage was a 2-2 tie against the host team in front of a packed house at the Olympic Arena. The Americans were leading 2-1 almost to the end, too: with just 33 seconds remaining on the clock in the third period, Canadian left winger Romeo Rivers sent a shot in from the blueline that beat U.S. goaltender Franklin Farrell.
The teams played three 10-minute periods of overtime without another goal. A U.S. win would have seen the tournament extended by another game, with the two old rivals meeting again to decide a winner. As it stood, the tie was enough to secure the championship for Canada.
Canadians on the were, predictably, exultant. Winnipeg Mayor Ralph Webb was at the game and his exuberance was soon cabled back to Manitoba. “The boys played a wonderful game,” he declared, “and the score does not represent the real game they played. All Canada should be proud as Winnipeg is of them.”
Memories of the mighty Winnipeg Falcons were widely invoked, that plucky team of Icelandic-Canadians who’d claimed gold in Antwerp in 1920. Interestingly, according to W.A. Hewitt in the Toronto Daily Star and others, that original title wasn’t entered in official Olympic records.
“The international Olympic committee a few years ago decided to erase the 1920 Winter Sports from the records,” Vern DeGeer recalled in his Windsor Star column.
“According to the International Olympic committee,” reported Hewitt, a member of Canada’s Olympic committee, “it is only the third title for Canada.”
Amid the celebratory columns that showed up over the next few days in Canadian newsprint were several gleeful accounts of American gaffes.
The game was broadcast across both the NBC rand Columbia radio networks, with Ted Husing providing play-by-play for the latter. “He came out with a flock of new terms,” columnist Johnny Buss wrote in the Winnipeg Tribune, but considering it was his first attempt at broadcasting a hockey game he did well.”
The puck was always a ball, according to Husing, and the American players were constantly flashing like “blue streaks” down the “alleys.” The penalty box was the “jury box,” and once Bill Cockburn was guilty of “heeling the ball,” whatever that may mean. Apart from these eccentricities, the report of the game more or less made sense.
Toronto’s Daily Star told the tale of the band that was on hand at the Olympic Arena. With minutes remaining in the game and the U.S. leading 2-1, the bandleader told his charges to be prepared to play the Star-Spangled Banner. The Star’s account of this is unbylined, but it’s likely that it was written by sports editor Lou Marsh, who just happened to be refereeing the final.
“He was all excited and joyed up,” the Star wrote of the bandleader. And went on:
Now the band was stationed in the alleyway around the Canuck players’ bench and they heard his excited orders. Then Rivers scored the tying goal — the winning goal, really — and sent the game into overtime. You can guess what disposition the exulting Canadian players invited the bandleader to make of his anthem when Rivers tied the game up.”
And the band DID NOT play “The Star Spangled Banner!”
Neither DID they play “The Maple Leaf” or “O Canada!”
They just folded up and departed!
The first time Canada took on Germany at an Olympics was in 1932 in Lake Placid, New York. The teams played twice in that tournament, 90 years ago this month, on Saturday, February 6 and then again on the Monday, February 8. That’s action from the former here, above. “Unabashed by their 7-0 defeat at the hands of the United States last night,” a Canadian Press account went, “the Germans started the game tonight with a fine turn of speed and a great deal of courage that battered manfully at the tough Winnipegs’ defence for two periods before they got anywhere near Bill Cockburn in the Canadian goal.” The game was played outdoors, at the rink at the Olympic Stadium. Canada won by a score of 4-1, with centre Walter Monson leading the way with a pair of goals.
“The husky Teutons” was a phrase of Ralph Allen’s, deployed in the Winnipeg Tribune after the teams’ second encounter, which was played indoors at the Olympic Arena. Another reporter wrote that “what the Germans lacked in hockey skill they made up for with sheer grit.” CP’s Wallace Ward praised their “plucky persistence.”
“They were decisively outclassed, however, and their desperate thrusts lacked sadly in cooperation and general hockey craft.”
The Globe deemed the Germans “stubborn.” Rudi Ball and Gustav Jaenecke were their most dangerous players: “their speed was a revelation if their shooting was clumsy.”
The Canadians rested three of their regulars for that game, including Hack Simpson. Canada’s margin of victory was 5-0 this time out.
Big day at the Winter Olympics today … in 1932. February 6 was a Saturday at the III hibernal games, which took place in and around Lake Placid, New York, and saw the mushing of 12 teams over a gruelling 40.5-kilometre course for the first of two races that were organized to show of dog-sled racing as an Olympic demonstration sport. Saturday’s race was won by Emil St. Goddard and his seven dogs, from The Pas, Manitoba. Actually, they won Sunday’s race, too, to take the overall title, ahead of the famous Alaskan sledder Leonard Seppala.
Hockeywise, February 6 saw Canada’s team play its third game in three days, though only two of them actually counted in the tournament standings.
Here’s how that worked: on February 4, Canada played the U.S. at Lake Placid’s outdoor Stadium rink. With an eye to selling tickets, American organizers had slotted in a series of exhibition games throughout the Olympics, which is how Canada skated out on February 5 and lost 2-0 to the team from McGill University. McGill got both its goals from centre Nels Crutchfield, who went on to play a single season for the Montreal Canadiens before a skull fracture suffered in a car accident put an end to his hockey career in 1935. At Lake Placid, Canadian management attached no importance to the game. Next morning, February 6, Canada beat Germany 4-1.
It was the Winnipeg Hockey Club representing Canada at the 1932 Olympics, the reigning Allan Cup champions, and despite what you see above, they (a) wore regular shinpads and socks and (b) affected plain old red maple leaves on their sweaters, no exoskeleton needed.
While we’re looking, it’s hard to say what exactly might be going on with the puck in this imaginatively enhanced German photo-illustration of Canada’s February 4 meeting with the United States. (See the original photograph below.) If the teams did indeed play the game batting about the lid of a teapot, it’s not something any of the newspapers noticed at the time. What we do know is that this was the opening outing of Canada’s least-dominant Olympics up to that point, even if they did — spoiler alert — end up grabbing gold.
Going into these Games, Canadians back home wondered whether the Winnipegs were worthy representatives. Could they get the job done? The team was considered weak, writes Andrew Podnieks in Canada’s Olympic Hockey Teams (1997), not to mention lacking in lustre. I don’t know that it’s fair to say that the country suffered a national sinking feeling as the team rode east out of Manitoba on Canadian National’s Continental Limited flyer, but neither am I ruling it out.
In this first meeting with the U.S., the Winnipegs may have been thrown off by the fact that the game was played outdoors. Goalie Bill Cockburn had sun glaring in his eyes, and the team in general was (said The Globe) “as nervous as an amateur theatrical troupe on ‘the big night.’” Also, did I mention that the rink was disconcertingly small?
Canada was not only “sluggish” for the first two periods, but “wobbly.” In the second, the Americans scooped up a wild Canadian pass in front of Cockburn and Doug Everett scored.
That woke up the Winnipeggers. Time to step it up. In the third, as The Globe told the tale, Franklin Farrell, the U.S. goaler, was on his knees most of the time batting away shots with his elbows and his hands.
Canad’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies, left winger Hack Simpson, finally beat him. In the 10-minute (non-sudden-death) overtime, despite taking two penalties, the Canadians prevailed when Vic Lindquist drove at the net, fell, collided with Farrell and, somehow, shoved the lid of the teapot into the net.
“Twas a close squeeze,” Globe sports editor Mike Rodden exhaled next morning.