The Preliminaries in Antwerp

Falcons Play Exhibition Game For Antwerp Charity

Antwerp, Belgium, April 18 (Special Cable to the Free Press from W/A/ Hewitt - Copyright)
- The Canadian Olympic Hockey team, the Winnipeg Falcons, played an exhibition game here today as the concluding number of a charity programme, participated in by the champion skaters of all nations gathered here for the Olympic events. The regular Falcon defence, with a forward line composed of the substitutes, played against the regular forwards with a defence picked from the officials, the result being a victory for the former by 9 goals to 6.

The players found the narrow ice a considerable handicap, more suited to five players a side than six, and it is evident that the speed of the Canadians will be considerably hampered with seven-man hockey, which the Olympic series calls for. The spectators thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. The American contingent, having been delayed en route here, are expected to arrive Tuesday.

Skating Events Open Big Olympic Games

Hockey at Antwerp Tomorrow

By R.H.SHEFFIELD United Press Staff Correspondent Antwerp Belgium, April 22, 1920.-
Belgium will become the scene tomorrow of another world wide conflict. Athletic armies of the world's greatest powers will compete in the battle of speed, strength and endurance which opens here and runs through the summer to Sept. 12th.

The Olympic games, premier sporting events of the world since the days of the ancient Greeks, come back to the spotlight after a lapse of eight years. The last Olympic games were held in Stockholm in 1912. Berlin was to have been the scene of the 1916 encounter, but all Europe was wrapped in battle at the time. Germany, Austria and the other nations of the Central powers were denied admission to the games.

The hockey games in the Antwerp Ice palace open the Olympic contests. The surface of artificial ice is 175 by 60 feet. Accomodations will be provided for more than 5,000 spectators. The original plans for holding the games on the Brussels canal were changed recently. Without attempting to hazard a choice on the selection of a winner, skating critics are almost agreed that no nation will have a cinch, but that the honors seem to rest between teams of the United States and Canada, with the Canadians a slight favourite.

That's how it all began almost 90 years ago. When the Falcons left Winnipeg on the train for Toronto little did they suspect that they were travelling into history. They were fully prepared to win the Allan Cup and the Canadian championship, but their dreams of victory probably didn't extend to the Olympics.

The idea of holding a world hockey contest on the "Brussels canal" shows the state of hockey thinking in Europe at that time. Notice that Canada was not yet considered a "hockey superpower". That was about to change.

Excerpt from remarks made in an article by W. A. Hewitt (27 April) -

"Not a man of the whole team felt any unpleasant effects of the journey. All proved good sailors, said W. A. (Billy) Hewitt, who accompanied the team as representative of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Not only did they boys establish a reputation for Canada as the premier hockey players of the world, but they also left a fine impression of the upstanding qualities of Canadian sportsmen and citizens. Their sportsmanship was greatly admired by all the European nations. One of the customs our boys instituted was to coach and assist all our opponents before we played them. We virtually trained the Swedes, Czech-Slovaks, Belgians and French teams for their contests against us. Whenever the Canadians play, continued Mr. Hewitt, we had a gallery watching us, and the members of the European teams would then take the ice and try to do what they observed in our play.

The European teams, especially the Swedes and Czechs, displayed that they were good skaters, but lacked a knowledge of the finer points of the game. The Americans were a strong team individually, but they did not have the teamwork of the Canadians. Joe McCormick, formerly of Bucking ham, Quebec, a Canadian, was the most dangerous man on their team. Herb Drury, another Canadian, who distinguished himself in most of the Americans' games, was totally ineffective against the Canadians, being bottled up in every attempt he made."

When the Falcons arrived in Antwerp they discovered that the American team was going to arrive four days late, due to bad weather somewhere in the Atlantic. When asked, they accepted an invitation to play a demonstration game of Falcons players and management to raise money for a local charity. All the while they were also coaching the European players, trying to bring them up to some kind of challenging level of play. Obviously the Falcons ran out of time, because they easily overwhelmed the Czechs and the Swedes. Even after these very one-sided games, the Falcons were still hailed as sports heroes by the Europeans. How typically Canadian! How very different from today's high-finance Olympic and World Cup games!
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