Video: Winnipeg Falcons, first Olympic champs, honored on Veterans Day
Just in time for Remembrance/Veterans Day, Historica Canada offers up an outstanding new Heritage Minute that tells the tale of the Winnipeg Falcons and the sacrifices they made in World War I before going on to capture the first-ever gold medal in Olympic hockey in 1920.
The team, drawn almost entirely from the Icelandic-Canadian community that was centered around Winnipeg's Sargent Avenue, had captured the Independent Hockey League championship in 1916. But with war raging in Europe, seven of the eight members volunteered for service, including future Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Fredrickson. Team president Hebbie Axford also joined up and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. Two Falcons, however, died overseas: Frank Thorsteinson and George Cumbers.
The five surviving Falcons returned home after the war and reformed the club. They went on to win the Allan Cup in 1920, earning a chance to represent Canada at the Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium and a permanent place in hockey history.