Gold – 40 years ago

News Article / February 16, 2018

This article was originally published in Sentinel, The Magazine of the Canadian Forces, in 1988.

Forty years ago, the RCAF Flyers made hockey history when they won a gold medal at the 1948 Winter Olympics at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Last February 11 [1988], eight team members re-lived some of those exciting times at a ceremony held in their honour at the RCAF Officers' Mess in Ottawa.

Team members regaled invited guests and members of the sports media with their recollections of the Olympic Games and the events leading up to them – including how they managed to find a substitute goalie when the regular netminder became ill just 48 hours before the team was to leave for Switzerland. Olympic hockey was played under very different conditions and different rules four decades ago. All games were played outside on natural ice and referees could be more than a little biased. "You should have seen some of them back then," says Dr. 'Sandy' Gardner Watson, Flyers' team manager. "During one game, one of our players was clearly tripped by an opponent. As he went down, he swung his stick at the puck, and scored. But the referee disallowed the goal, saying it was against the rules to shoot the puck while lying on the ice. "

The purpose of the lunch-hour ceremony for the team was two-fold: to pay tribute to the team, and to say bon voyage as 11 team members prepared to attend the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary Alberta.

Dr. Watson proposed the idea of the trip a year ago. Wardair Limited said it would be pleased to provide transportation to and from the Games, while the Department of National Defence, through the office of associate defence minister Paul Dick, found accommodation for the team at Canadian Forces Base Calgary – and threw in ground transportation to boot.

With half a dozen reporters in attendance, the players once again found themselves in the media spotlight at the luncheon. There was at least one difference – there had been no television cameras 40 years ago. Even the location of the luncheon was significant. lt was in the same mess that then-Governor General Viscount Alexander hosted a victory dinner for the RCAF Flyers when they returned from the Olympics – 40 years ago.

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