1920 - Hockey Joins The Olympics

The 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium were historic for several reasons. These games marked the first time the Olympic oath was taken by an athlete, the first time the Olympic flag was flown, and the first time doves were released as a symbol of peace. Also making these Olympics historic was the introduction of ice hockey as a demonstration sport. Why was ice hockey included in the summer Olympics? Simply because there was no such thing as a Winter Olympics until 1924.

The Winnipeg Falcons

It was decided that Canada's first entrant at the Olympic Games would be the country's amateur champions, conquerors of the Allan Cup championship. The Winnipeg Falcons earned that championship and the right to play in the first Olympic hockey tournament by defeating the University of Toronto in the finals. Winnipeg won the two games by scores of  8-3 and 3-2. 

With the exception of goaltender Wally Byron, the team consisted of players of Icelandic origin, thus the Manitoba media often called them the Icelanders. Top players of the team were, above all, the captain Frank Frederickson and the speedy skater Mike Goodman, who won the North American speed skating championship just days prior to the Allan Cup championship..

Meet Team Canada

The following descriptions appeared in Spalding's Athletic Library 1919 when it comes to the Winnipeg Falcons 1920 team. (Special thanks to Patrick Houda)

Hebbie" Axford, President The man behind the wheel and the brains of the club. Fought well in the committee room to win a berth for his club in senior company, and followed up his success by piloting the Icelandic crew to premier honors of Western Canada. One of the old original Falcons. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Bobbie Benson, Left Defence He has all the attributes of a first-class defence player and teams up to perfection with the sturdy Johannesson. His reckless habit of diving head-first into the fray no matter what the odds may be always excites the admiration of the fans. He broke into hockey at the age of fifteen. He is one of the old original Falcons, and has played with the Icelandic Club throughout his entire career. Age 25, weight 130 lbs, height 5ft 4 in. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Wally Byron, Goal One of the best custodians playing amateur hockey in Canada, and noted for his remarkable consistency. He played a cool, steady and brilliant game all winter. He blanked the opposition in three out of fourteen games, and kept the score within three tallies on several occasions. Wally played with the intermediate Falcons in 1913-1914, and broke into Senior company with the 223rd Battalion Team in 1916-1917. Age 25; weight 143 lbs, height 5 ft 10 in. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Frank Frederickson, Center The captain of this team and center ice expert without a peer. Nearly 50 per cent of the goals netted by the Falcons in their fourteen games came from his club (?), while the rangy star figured in many more tallies by timely assists. His stick-handling is always a treat to behold and his snappy combination breakaways down the ice with a teammate are probably the most dangerous factor in the Icelandic attack. Attended both Kelvin and Collegiate (high schools), and first broke into the hockey limelight in inter-school sport along with Jimmy Gibson, Cecil Browne and Jack Asseltine. Frank is a very versatile young fellow being a gifted songster and an accomplished violinist as well as one of the greatest turned out. Age 24, weight 157 lbs, height 5 ft 10 in. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Chris Fridfinnson, Substitute Forward Chris is known as "the useful sub", owing to the fact that he generally connects for a goal or two during his time on the ice. Played with the Y.M.L.C. Juniors three years ago with Halderson, and jumped into senior company with the Vimy team in the Military League the following season. Played an indifferent game with the Monarchs last season, but, like Halderson, showed his real hockey ability under the Falcon colours. Age 21, weight 127 lbs, height 5 ft 10 in. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mike Goodman, Left Wing Frederickson's left-hand bower and the tornado of the team. Combined nicely with Frederickson and Halderson and is a first-class goal-getter. Mike played the star role in helping the Falcons defeat Selkirk in four out of five occasions by bottling up the renowned Joe Simpson so tightly that he was unable to open up with his deadly corkscrew rushes. Mike piloted the Y.M.L.C. Juniors to the Manitoba Championships last winter, and helped Selkirk in their Allan Cup drive at Toronto against Hamilton.
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Hallie (Slim) Halderson, Right Wing Fredrickson's right bower and giant of the team. A clever all-round player with exceptional stick-handling ability. Played junior hockey with the Young Men's Lutheran Club team three years ago, and made his debut in the senior ranks in 1916-1917 with Ypres team in the Military League. Performed well in the Allan Cup final against Kitchener in Toronto. Joined Monarchs last winter, but failed to show his true form. Came back to life with a bang this season under the genial influence of the Falcon Club and played an important part in helping his team land the right to travel in quest of the Allan Cup. Is the matinee idol of the Falcon team. Age 21, weight 157 lbs, height 6 ft 2 in.
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Konnie Johannesson, Right Defence One of the giants of the team. He is a born defenseman and is almost unbeatable, his ability at blocking and checking being equalled only by his quick brain. He is a dangerous rusher, a gifted stick-handler, and packs a terrific shot, which, when trained properly on the nets, generally finds a billet. Was used as s spare on the Falcons team in their Independent League, and found a regular berth on the 223rd Battalion defence along with Benson and Byron. Age 23, weight 165 lbs, height 5 ft 11 1/2 in. 
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Fred ("Steamer") Maxwell, Manager His coaching and knowledge of the inside points of the game did much to round the team into a finely-oiled machine. He compelled the boys to play their best hockey all season and handled the substitutes in a masterly fashion. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Allan (Huck) Woodman, Substitute Forward Another giant. Can manipulate the rubber nicely and is a dangerous shot. Broke into senior hockey this season. Played with Tiger Juniors two years ago, and helped Y.M.L.C. win the Manitoba junior hockey honours last winter. Age 20, weight 165 lbs, height 5 ft 11 3/4 in

You can also read many of these players' military biographies

The Games

The Antwerp Olympics used the "Bergvall" system of elimination to decide the championship. Essentially it was a unique knock out format where the gold medallist was decided in the first round of games, while subsequent rounds were played to decide the silver and bronze medals. Canada went undefeated in three games to capture the gold.

April 24, 1920 - Canada 15 - Czechoslovakia 0 (40 minute game with 2 halves)

Canada erupted for a 10 goal lead in the opening frame and settled for a 15-0 romp of the newly formed nation. Slim Halderson led the way with 7 goals, while Frank Fredrickson had 4, Mike Goodman had 2 and Konnie Johanneson and Huck Woodman had 1 each.

More Information On Canada-Czechoslovakia game

April 25, 1920 - Canada 2 - United States 0 (40 minute game with 2 halves)

There was little doubt that two best nations in the tournament were Canada and the USA. The two met on the second day of the tournament before a sold out stadium. It was a physical affair, which clearly was foreign to the French referee and the fans.

The game was considered to be the best game ever played on European soil at the time. The United States relied on the individual skill of Herbert Drury and Albert Conroy whereas Canada relied on a full team game. Both goaltenders, Ray Bonney of USA and Wally Byron of Canada, were spectacular and kept the score knotted at zero through 3/4s of the game.

Ultimately it was Canada's depth that won them the game. Frank Fredrickson broke the scoreless drought at the 11 minute mark of the second half, while Konnie Johansson, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite in Belgium, put the game away at 18 minutes.

More information on the first USA-Canada Game

April 26, 1920 - Canada 12 - United States 1 (40 minute game with 2 halves)

After defeating the United States, Canada simply had to get by the heavy underdog Swedish team in order to clinch first place in the gold medal round, and the gold medal itself. That proved to be no problem as Frank Fredrickson led the way with 7 goals. Slim Halderson added two and Chris Fridfinnson, Mike Goodman and Bobby Benson added singles. Einar Svensson, the Swedish rover, was the only player in the entire tournament who could get the puck behind Canadian goalkeeper Wally Byron. The Swedes considered this to be a significant accomplishment

More information on the Canada-Sweden game

Final Standings

Gold Canada
Silver United States
Silver Czechoslovakia
4th Sweden
5th  Switzerland
6th France
7th Belgium

 

 

 

 

Canada's Statistics (3 games played, no assists counted)

Frank Fredrickson 12 goals
Slim Halderson 9 goals
Mike Goodman 3 goals
Konnie Johannesson 2 goals
Bobby Benson 1 goal
Chris Fridfinnson 1 goal
Allan Woodman 1 goal

 

 

 

 

 

Goaltender Wally Byron was 3-0-0 with 1 goal against and 2 shutouts.

For More Information consult the book Falcons' Gold