CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007
Long Shot: How the Winnipeg Falcons Won the First Olympic Hockey Gold. (Record books).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2007.
112 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55028-974-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55028-975-6 (hc.).
Winnipeg Falcons (Hockey team)-History-Juvenile literature.
Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.
Review by Val Ken Lem.
The Falcons' lineup had not changed much from the season before. The difference was that the older players and the younger players were more used to each other. Good teamwork was important. At the time, teams had seven players on the ice instead of six. The extra player was called a rover. Teams usually carried one or two spare players as well. They did not see much action. The starters were expected to play for all 60 minutes.
Eric Zweig brings his experience as a sports journalist and hockey historian to Long Shot, which is aptly described in the subtitle that appears on the cover, How the Winnipeg Falcons Won the First Olympic Hockey Gold. In 15 short chapters, the reader is taken for an exciting journey from hockey crazy Winnipeg in 1896 to the creation of the Winnipeg Falcons in 1909 and eventually to the 1920 Olympic Games when the team made up almost exclusively of Icelandic-Canadians from Manitoba became Olympic champions and the toast of the nation. Excerpts from contemporary newspaper reports provide a sense of immediacy to the Olympic action.
The Falcons' story wasn't always so glorious. Prejudice against the working class sons of Icelandic immigrants kept them from playing in the Winnipeg Hockey League, but fortunately a couple of other teams joined with the Falcons in other amateur hockey leagues. After their rise to international victory, members of the Falcons moved on to professional hockey with the National Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Frank Fredrickson had the greatest success in the professional leagues and was eventually elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The excerpt illustrates Zweig's ability to succinctly capture historical details about the evolving nature of hockey in Canada. A basic understanding of current hockey rules is all that is required to appreciate the differences explained. A two-page glossary includes terms, like blocked shot and combination play, that may be unfamiliar to some readers. Most chapters include one sidebar that contains interesting facts such as the origin of the Allan Cup, the amateur hockey trophy first presented in 1908. Also included are nine black and white photos of various Falcons teams or members and related images.
Val Ken Lem is a member of the Collection Services Team at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, and liaison librarian for history, English and Caribbean studies.
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