February 26, 1933 – Prague, Czechoslovakia
In the early days of international hockey, Canada was all but invincible. It won the first four Olympic tournaments (1920, ‘24, ‘28, ‘32) and the first two World Championships (1930 and ‘31) without losing a single game. But when looking closely at the scores, one could see that Canada was occasionally vulnerable. The Canadians needed overtime in both games against the USA in the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics to secure the gold medal, and, in the 1931 World Championship, Sweden skated away with a 0-0 tie against the eventual champions.
In the 1933 world tournament in Prague, Czechoslovakia, USA and Canada once again faced each other in the gold medal game on February 26 at the beautiful Zimni Stadion at Stvanice. Both teams had coaches who later became high-profile men in the professional leagues back in North America. The Canadian entry, the Toronto National Sea Fleas, was led by Harold Ballard, later known as the controversial owner of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The Americans, represented in Prague by the Massachusetts Rangers, had Walter Brown as their coach. Brown, the president of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, became the president of the IIHF in 1954 and an inductee to both the Hockey Hall of Fame as well as to the IIHF Hall of Fame later in the 20th century.
The gold-medal game in ‘33 was tied 1-1 at the end of 45 minutes of regulation time. Sherman Forbes scored for the U.S. while Tim Kerr had the Canadian equalizer. Six minutes into the 10-minute “non sudden-death” overtime, defenseman John Garrison scored on a beautiful solo effort, beating Canadian goalie Ron Geddes. Gerry Cosby, the American goalie who would later open his famous hockey store at the Madison Square Garden in New York, stoned Canada for the rest of the overtime period and his team held on for the historic 2-1-win.
For Garrison and star forward Winthrop Palmer it was the sweetest revenge. Both players were part of the 1932 Lake Placid team that lost the Olympic gold medal by the narrowest of margins.
Amazingly, as big as the USA success was back in 1933, no American men’s team has been able to repeat the World Championship gold in the next 75 years. In fact, they have won only four silver medals since, the most recent coming in 1956 at the Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.