From time to time, TheIHLC.com will feature detailed recaps and boxscores of some of the most legendary games in international hockey history, considered to be “IHLC Classics.” This feature, showcasing the inaugural Olympic Gold Medal Game from 1920, is the first such Classic feature. Enjoy!
It was certainly a strange anomaly to begin with: a winter game being played in the springtime as an exhibition sport at the Summer Olympics.
But despite the semantics of their surroundings, the Winnipeg Falcons, representing Canada at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, won ice hockey’s first ever Olympic Gold with a 12-1 drubbing of Sweden, to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship held since 1912.
Both teams had cruised into the Gold Medal Game undefeated, with Sweden beating Belgium and France by a combined 12-0 score, while Canada crushed the Czechoslovaks 15-0, and narrowly defeated the United States 2-0 en route to the final, played under a Bergvall tournament format. The hero of the day was Canadian captain Frank Fredrickson, whose unbelievable seven goal performance throttled the Falcons onto the national stage, making them national heroes overnight. Frederickson netted two consecutive hat tricks, one in each period, with Canada also getting a two goal effort from Haldor Halderson, and solo goals from Chris Fridfinnson, Magnus Goodman and defenceman Robert Benson.
An interesting tidbit about the victory was the reaction in Sweden to the loss, which then relegated the Tre Kronor to the silver medal tournament round to face the United States. The Swedes, who only netted a lone goal with 4:02 remaining in the first period on a blast from Einar Svensson, were seen as pseudo-winners back home, with newspapers declaring victory over the fact that they were able to score a single goal on Canadian goalie Walter Byron, with the force of the shot so strong that it knocked over Byron and ruined the shutout attempt.
Sweden would eventually place fourth in the tournament, while the United States captured silver and Czechoslovakia bronze. The Falcons returned home to much fanfare in Canada, entering the annals of history by being inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, while Halderson and Frederickson went on to play in the NHL, with Frederickson being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
With the win, Canada retained the International Hockey Lineal Championship they won from France in March 1912, a title they held throughout the stoppage in play during World War I, and swept the Antwerp Olympics (with wins over Czechoslovakia and the United States) en route to Gold. Canada became the inaugural Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal winners, also winning the first truly international hockey tournament organized by the IIHF, who previously had only sanctioned tournaments in Europe. This was also Sweden’s first ever IHLC title game, facing Canada in the first of many epic meetings between the two, including the first of four Gold Medal final meetings, with rematches in 1984, 1994 and 2014. Canada would hold the title until their next major tournament, ice hockey’s debut at the inaugural Winter Olympics, held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
01:15 – GOAL – Halderson
01:55 – GOAL – Fridfinnson
05:20 – GOAL – Frederickson
15:58 – GOAL – Svensson
16:00 – GOAL – Frederickson
17:35 – GOAL – Frederickson
23:47 – GOAL – Goodman
28:09 – GOAL – Benson
29:15 – GOAL – Frederickson
29:30 – GOAL – Frederickson
34:55 – GOAL – Frederickson
36:20 – GOAL – Halderson
39:02 – GOAL – Frederickson
Goaltender: Walter Byron. Defence: Robert Benson, Konrad Johannesson. Forwards: Frank Fredrickson (C), Chris Fridfinnson, Magnus Goodman, Haldor Halderson.
Goaltender: Seth Howander. Defence: Wilhelm Arwe, Einar Lindqvist (C). Forwards: Erik Burman, Georg Johansson, Hansjacob Mattsson, Einar Svensson.