by Bruce Cherney (part 4)
But with the Canadian protest removed and the IHF giving the two men the green light to play in the Olympic competition, the British had every right to add Foster and Archer to their roster. What did the Canadians expect? The British were just as intent on winning the gold medal as the Canadians.
E.A. Gilroy, president of the CAHA, acknowledged this after the defeat at the hands of the British, when he said that because the association had lifted its protest, the British “selection committee could name whatever players it pleased and it was no business of Canadian officials” (CP, February 12).
The first goal of the game was scored only 40 seconds into the first period. It was described as a “trick goal” that surprised everyone watching the game. Gerald “Gerry” Davey, a forward playing for Great Britain recruited from Canada (he was born in Port Arthur, Ontario, and went to England with his mother at age 16 in 1931), hoisted the puck skyward from the Canadian blue line. “It drifted into the net past the startled veteran Canadian goalie, “Dinty” Moore ... to the amazement of the packed stadium.”
After 13 minutes of “heated play” in the first period, Big Ralph St. Germain, the Ottawa-born star of the Montreal Royals, received a pass from Jimmy Haggarty in the British zone, and faked out Foster to score the tying goal.
The final and winning goal of the game was scored from a rebound off the Canadian goaltender by Edgar Brenchley, another British team member who learned to play hockey in Canada, in the 14th minute of the final period.
“From a spectators’ point of view, the game was probably the most thrilling of the Olympics to date. The Canadian passing attack was a revelation to many of the fans used to European competition that is ragged in comparison. And certainly never in Olympic history had anyone put on a more scintillating net-minding display than did Foster” (CP, February 12).
The loss to Britain was disastrous for Canada. In the system used for Olympic hockey in Germany, there were four preliminary round groups playing a round-robin within each. The top two nations from each group (eight in all) then advanced to a semi-final round of two groups of four teams, and the top two from these two groups played a round-robin series, or so it was originally believed by Canadian officials.
Canada, Britain, the U.S. and Czechoslovakia advanced to the final round. But what the Canadians objected to was the carrying over of points from the February 11 semi-final games. Canada had defeated Germany and Hungary, but it was their loss to Britain that would come back to haunt them in the final round.
It was only after the second round that tournament officials declared that results from the semi-final would count toward the final round.
IHF president Paul Loicq of Belgium called an emergency meeting to deal with the Canadian protest. During the meeting, Bunny Ahearne of the BIHA managed to outmanoeuvre the Canadians and Pudas. By a 6-2 vote — only Germany supported Canada — a special committee of hockey officials at the Olympics, “decided to allow playdown arrangements to stand, which means England and the United States enter the titular series with a game in hand over Canada and Czechoslovakia,” reported the CP on February 14.
“The Canadians fell before England in a second-round match, 2-1, while the Americans pinned a 2-0 defeat on the Czechs.”
The arrangement was that all teams only played each other once throughout the entire competition. Thus both the Americans and the British teams had a two-point cushion heading into the finals, which would not have Canada again playing the British, nor the Americans taking on the Czechs. Instead, Britain played only the U.S. and Czechoslovakia and the Americans only played Canada and Great Britain.
What Canada had wanted was at least another chance to meet the British team in a straight round-robin series involving the four teams in the final, but that was denied to them by the Olympic officials. The Canadians considered the ruling to be another move by the IHF to ensure that the hockey gold medal went to the British team.
A CP report blamed Ahearne for manipulating the IHF in Britain’s favour, referring to the head of the BIHA as a “Machiavellian strategist,” and a “double-dealing, self-serving little rascal.”
Canadian Olympic Committee official P.J. Mulqueen called it “one of the worst manipulations in sporting history.”
A Times of London editorial agreed, stating, “it is regrettable that the Olympic hockey committee didn’t publicly announce the regulations governing the tournament.”
But when they returned to Canada, some of the Canadian players placed responsibility for the format confusion on their own officials.
“The Olympic rules state that the hockey may be played either on an elimination or point system or both,” said left winger Big Ralph St. Germain, who scored Canada’s only goal in the game against Britain. “Either through carelessness or dumbness, the (Canadian) officials neglected to find out what system was being used until after we were defeated by England.”
Newspapers across Canada criticized the CAHA officials for making a mess of the Olympics by not knowing the rules of the tournament — it was claimed by the Ottawa Citizen to be a “fiasco.”
The final round was anticlimactic as Great Britain defeated the Czechs 5-0 and tied the U.S. 0-0. Canada defeated the U.S. 1-0 and the Czechs 7-0.
The tie with the U.S. assured the gold medal for Great Britain (five points), while Canada finished second overall (four points) and won the silver medal. The U.S. finished third (three points) and took the bronze medal.
If the Americans had beaten the team from Britain, Canada would have claimed the gold medal, but after three overtime periods, the game remained tied and was declared over by Olympic officials. Besides the tie with Britain, the Americans lost an earlier round game 2-1 to the Italians, which was also regarded as a major upset, although it didn’t effect the final standings.
An American victory against Britain would have resulted in a three-way tie in the points standings, with the Canadians receiving top spot and the gold medal because of their better goals-for record.
The British played a defensive game against the U.S., knowing that all they needed was a tie to claim the gold medal. The Ottawa Journal on February 17 called it a “six-man defence” that stymied the American attack. One of the six defenders was, of course, goaltender Foster.
Actually, British coach Percy Nicklin had devised a highly-defensive strategy in order to thwart better offensive teams such as the U.S. and Canada. He relied upon Foster to backstop this strategy.
“In front of him was a team with little scoring punch, and aggregate that was outplayed by Canada, the United States and Germany,” according to a February 18 CP article. “But it wasn’t beaten because Foster was too good.”
With the outcome against Britain, the Bearcats were unable to repeat the Olympic championship won four years earlier by the Winnipeg Winnipegs, commonly called the ’Pegs, at Lake Placid, New York. Still, their silver medal was the only medal earned by Canada during the Games.
In seven games, Foster allowed only three goals and recorded four shutouts.
After the Olympics, Glasgow-born Foster, who was nicknamed “The Parson,” because he once considered becoming a minister, continued to play hockey in England, as well as baseball for the West Ham Pirates, but he returned to Canada in 1940. Foster, termed “Great Britain’s greatest goaltender,” died in his hometown of Winnipeg on January 4, 1969, aged 63.
Archer never returned to Canada and ended his hockey career as a player and coach in England. He died in Britain on June 15, 1979.
Dailley continued to play hockey for England until he joined the Canadian Army in 1938 and served in the Second World War and the Korean War. He remained in the Canadian Army until his retirement. At the time of his retirement, Dailley was a colonel and the base commander at Gagetown, New Brunswick. He died in New Brunswick on May 3, 1989.
Dailley, Archer and Foster were inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, while Foster is an Honoured Member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Commenting on the Canadians’ performance at the Olympics, team coach Pudas said: “Our goal average was higher than England’s, too. However, while we lost the title, we knew we had the best club, and the boys and I have only one regret — that we had to be the first to let Canada down” (Ottawa Journal, February 17, 1936).
Harkening back to the days before NHLers could compete for Canada in Olympic hockey, Tribune columnist Ralph Allen questioned whether Canada had the talent to compete in future Olympics due to other nations recruiting the best Canadian players to play in newly-formed professional leagues in Europe and the U.S.
“You don’t need any inside information to get next to the fact that the drainage of hockey talent has begun,” he wrote in his One Man’s Opinion column (February 27, 1936).
“The argument that we’ll always be able to produce an unlimited supply of hockey players won’t stand up.”
Allen felt that Canada might not be able to field a competitive Olympic team in 1940 or even 2040.
Of course, he wasn’t correct. In 1940, the Olympics were cancelled due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and when they resumed, Canada still held sway, winning gold medals in 1948 and 1952, until the Soviets began fielding hockey teams. Starting in 1956 and ending in Calgary in 1988, the Soviets won seven of eight Olympic gold medals (the Americans won in 1980). But Canada is once again the Olympic men’s ice hockey powerhouse (women’s, as well), winning back-to-back gold medals in 2010 in Vancouver and this year in Sochi, Russia. Canada won its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.