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Great Britain end Canada's reign

Team Great Britain Hockey IOC
16 Feb 1936
Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936, Ice Hockey

Represented on each occasion by the winners of the Allan Cup, the country’s national amateur championship, Canada had won all four of the preceding Olympic ice hockey competitions (Antwerp 1920, Chamonix 1924, St Moritz 1928 and Lake Placid 1932). In doing so, the all-conquering Canadians racked up a series of commanding wins over their opponents.

Great Britain Hockey Team News Inside 01 IOC

The honour of representing the country at Garmisch 1936 should have gone to that winter’s Allan Cup winners Halifax Wolves. A number of their players turned professional in the wake of the tournament, however, prompting an invitation to losing finalists Port Arthur Bear Cats to form the nucleus of the Canada team, which also featured several Montreal players.

A total of 15 teams took to the ice in Garmisch, with matches being held at two venues: an outdoor rink on Lake Rießersee and the artificial rink at the Olympia-Eissport-Zentrum.

The competition featured three rounds, with teams being drawn into four groups in the first. The top eight sides from that round were then drawn into two pools of four in the second, with the first two sides in each group going on to contest the medals in a round-robin format. In that final round, the results between teams who had faced each other in the second round were carried over, a rule that would prove decisive when it came to determining the medal winners.

Great Britain arrived in Germany with a very competitive side, thanks in no small part to the decision made by the national ice hockey federation in 1933 to build the team around British-born Canadian players.

Unperturbed by that development, Canada made short work of their first-round opponents, swamping Poland 8-1, Latvia 11-0 and Austria 5-2 to top Group A with 24 goals scored and only three conceded. Meanwhile, Great Britain won the three-team Group D courtesy of a 1-0 defeat of Sweden and a 3-0 victory over Japan.

The British faced the Canadians in Pool A in the second round, inflicting a 2-1 defeat on them, their first ever Olympic reverse. The North Americans recovered to thrash Hungary 15-0 and Germany 6-2, while GB drew 1-1 with the hosts and saw off the Hungarians 5-1. Over in Pool B, meanwhile, USA dominated proceedings with three wins.

Initially unaware that their defeat to the British would be carried over to the final round, the Canadians remained in confident mood as they began their push for another gold. After easing to a 7-0 defeat of Czechoslovakia, they beat USA 1-0, while the British beat the Czechs 5-0 and drew 0-0 with the United States. Coupled with their earlier victory over Canada, those results gave Great Britain five points and the gold medal, with the four-time champions stuck on four points and having to settle for silver. USA took the bronze.

The Canadians lodged an appeal against the regulations, demanding to play the British again in the final round. The appeal was thrown out, however, as Great Britain landed their first major ice hockey medal and their one and only Olympic gold in the sport.

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