January 15, 2014

1952 Olympics - Oslo, Norway

Norway is the greatest winter sports country on the planet, at least according to the all time medal haul at the Winter Olympics. Oslo was chosen as the host city for the 1952 Olympic Games, easily outdistancing Cortina d'Ampezzo and Lake Placid.

Despite their love for winter sports, they have never been good at hockey. They finished dead last.

For Canada it would be another easy Olympic gold medal. It would also unthinkably be their last for 5o years.

The Edmonton Mercurys

The Edmonton Mercuries were selected to represent Canada at the 1952 Olympics. They were not the Allan Cup champions, as their league had turned semi-pro prior to the Allan Cup. Edmonton remained amateur, and were so highly regarded that the CAHA asked them to go to Oslo.

The team was comprised of goaltenders Eric Patterson and Ralph Hansch, the latter of which is the only player in Olympic history to wear jersey number zero.

John Davies, Don Gauf, Bob Meyers, Tom Pollock and Al Purvis played on defense.

Up front the team was guided by Billy Gibson's 15 goals and 22 points in 8 games. David Miller, who was accused of having professional experience by the Czechs, scored 10 goals and 12 points. Other forwards were George Abel, Billy Dawe, Bruce Dickson, Gordie Robertson, Louis Secco, Sully Sullivan and Robert Watt.

The team was bankrolled by Jim Christianson, an Edmonton car salesman, hence the name Mercuries after a brand of Ford cars. Christianson put up $100,000 to get the team to Europe. Christianson accompanied the team but he became ill shortly after arriving. He returned to Canada and died soon after.

The team was coached by Lou Holmes.

Every player scored at least 2 goals in the tournament, as Canada rolled to a 7-0-1 record with 71 goals scored and 14 goals against. The only blemish on the Mercuries record was a 3-3 tie with the United States in the final game of their tournament. The two sides seemed friendly, as evidenced in this post game photo:

The Europeans were not nearly as friendly towards Canada or the US. Outrage roared after Gordie Robertson of Canada and Joe Czarnota of the US received major penalties for fighting in different games. A Swiss paper called for the removal of hockey from future Olympics. The Oslo fans pelted the Americans with orange peels following the Czarnota incident.

Other notable players in the tournament included Tumba Johansson for the bronze medal winning Swedes and Aarne Honkavaara for the Finns, two of the early stars in each of those Scandinavian countries. Team Finland is pictured below.

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