The Winnipeg Falcons were a senior men's amateur ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Winnipeg Falcons won the 1920 Allan Cup. That team went on to represent Canada in the 1920 Olympic games held in Antwerp, Belgium. There the Falcons, soundly beating all their opponents, won for Canada the first ever Olympic Gold Medal in ice hockey.
The Winnipeg Falcons hockey team was founded in 1911 with a roster of entirely Icelandic players who had not been able to join other Winnipeg teams due to ethnic prejudice. In their first season, 1911–1912, they finished at the bottom of their league. The next year, Konnie Johannesson and Frank Fredrickson joined the team. That team turned out to be a winner in the league.
The early roots of the Winnipeg Falcons can be traced back to the Icelandic Athletic Club which was formed in 1898. The club consisted of a two team league called the Icelandic Athletic Club (IAC) and the Vikings. In 1908, the two teams agreed to become one team.
During the 1910-11 season, the Falcons became part of a new senior league. Other clubs in the league would include the Kenora Thistles, Brandon Wheat City and Winnipeg AAA. In 1913-14, the Falcons became part of the Independent Hockey League, joining the Strathconas from Winnipeg and teams from Selkirk and Portage la Prairie. The Falcons finished the season with 4 wins and 8 losses. During the following season, the Falcons beat Portage by a score of 4–3 to become league champions.
During the First World War, seven of the eight Falcons players enlisted to serve and went overseas. Two players—Frank Thorsteinson and George Cumbers—died in the war. The other five returned to Winnipeg after the war in 1919 and reassembled the team.
Road to the Allan Cup
In the 1919-1920 season, the Falcons won the Allan Cup. The Falcons were part of the Manitoba Hockey League with Brandon Wheat City and the Selkirk Fishermen. The first place team of the Manitoba Hockey League would play the champion of the Winnipeg Hockey League for the opportunity to represent Western Canada in the Allan Cup playoffs. The Falcons beat the Fishermen 5–3 to claim the Manitoba Hockey League championship. Frank Fredrickson won the Manitoba Hockey League scoring title with 23 goals in 10 games. Wally Byron led the league with 2 shutouts and had a 2.57 goals against average. Bobby Benson led the league with 26 penalties in minutes.
The team went on to play in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. It was there that the team won the first Olympic Gold Medal in ice hockey. Although an official part of the Summer Olympic Games, hockey and figure skating events were held in late April and early May, while the weather was still cool enough for suitable ice conditions in the arena.
Falcons Olympic Roster
- Hebbie Axford D.F.C.(Club President)
- Bill Fridfinnson (Secretary)
- Billy Hewitt (Canadian Olympic representative)
- Gordon Sigurjonson (Coach, Trainer)
- Robert Benson (Left defence)
- Walter Byron (Goal)
- Frank Fredrickson (Captain, center)
- Chris Fridfinnson (Substitute)
- Magnus Goodman (Left wing)
- Haldor Halderson (Right wing)
- Konrad Johannesson (Right defence)
- Allan Woodman (Rover)
Five other players also contributed to the Falcons 1919-20 season, but were not part of the Olympic roster. Their names were Harvey Benson, Ed Stephenson, Connie Neil, Babs Dunlop and Sam Laxdal.
The 1920 Winnipeg Falcons were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the team category.
The first member of the squad to pass away was Chris Fridfinnson. He died at the age of 40 in 1938. The last surviving member was Mike Goodman. He was 93 years old when he died in 1991.
The Falcons were honoured in a new Heritage Minute segment in 2014. The segment, narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos and featuring actor Jared Keeso, shares how the Falcons overcame discrimination and stayed together through the First World War on their way to the top of the hockey world. The Falcons segment premiered at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on November 6, 2014, during the intermission of a game between the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Hockey Canada, in recognition of the Falcons' achievement, had the national junior team wear replicas of the famous old gold and black Falcons uniforms for a World Junior Championship pre-tournament game in Winnipeg on December 20, 2004.
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- Long Shot, How the Winnipeg Falcons won the first Olympic hockey gold, Eric Zweig, p.28, James Lorimer and Company, Toronto, Canada, 2007, ISBN 1-55028-974-8
- "Winnipeg Falcons subject of first-ever extended Heritage Minute". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
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- Long Shot, How the Winnipeg Falcons won the first Olympic hockey gold, Eric Zweig, p.64, James Lorimer and Company, Toronto, Canada, 2007, ISBN 1-55028-974-8
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- The Official Olympic Games Companion: The Complete Guide to the Olympic Winter Games 1998 Edition, London - Washington: Brassey’s Sports, 1998, p. 128, ISBN 1-85753-244-9
- Long Shot, How the Winnipeg Falcons won the first Olympic hockey gold, Eric Zweig, p.105, James Lorimer and Company, Toronto, Canada, 2007, ISBN 1-55028-974-8
- Johannesson, Brian. "Three Jerseys". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Hockey Canada and Nike Hockey Celebrate History". Hockey Canada. Retrieved 2014-11-08.
- Square, David (2007), When Falcons Fly: The Story of the World's First Olympic Gold Hockey Team, Vancouver: Poppy Productions, ISBN 978-0-9782818-0-9
|Canada men's Olympic ice hockey team