Murray Dowey, 1925-2021
by Andrew Podnieks|29 MAY 2021
photo: Turofsky / Hockey Hall of Fame
Murray Dowey, the last surviving member of Canada’s historic gold-medal 1948 Olympic hockey team, died on 26 May in Toronto. He was 95.

Dowey represented Canada only once in international competition, but he made it count. In the years immediately after the war, Canada was reluctant to play in IIHF competition because of a disagreement over the meaning of “amateur.” Indeed, Canada had boycotted the 1947 World Championship and seemed on the verge of doing same for the ’48 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. 

On October 15, 1947, however, the CAHA decided to send a team to the Olympics, and the RCAF volunteered to be the nation’s representatives. Frank Boucher was named coach, and players were invited to Ottawa for a quick training camp and tryout. Once a team was more or less selected, however, it failed to impress during exhibition games and Boucher made a significant number of changes. 

The trickiest problem was in goal. Coach Boucher was not impressed with the play of either Joe Tunney or Trev Williams and was only too happy to sign Dick Ball from the University of Toronto. 

Boucher continued to tinker with his roster in the weeks leading up to the team’s departure, but he was very happy with Ball in goal. Three days before sailing, however, Ball was informed by his doctor that a lung condition would not permit him to travel. 

Ball suggested Dowey as his replacement. Dowey had been playing for the Barkers Hockey Club in the Toronto Mercantile Hockey League. There was just one problem—Dowey also had a good job working with the Toronto Transit Commission. The TTC happily and quickly granted him the time off, though, and on January 8, 1948, the RCAF Flyers set sail for Europe.

As usual, the Canadians played a series of exhibition games, touring the Continent to prepare for the Olympics and also to showcase Canadian hockey. Once the Games began, the team was unbeatable. Dowey recorded five shutouts in eight games and allowed only five goals, his 0.62 goals-against average and shutouts both Olympics records to this day. The team won seven of eight games to win gold, the only small blemish a scoreless tie with the 1947 World Champion Czechoslovakians.

Dowey made Olympics history in a quirky way as well. In the third period of the team’s first game, a 3-1 win over Sweden, he caught the puck with his glove to make a save and then threw the puck forward. This is not allowed, and he was assessed a two-minute minor penalty at 19:52. Rules at the time required the goalie to serve his own penalty, so Dowey skated to the penalty box and handed his glove and blocker to defenceman Andre Laperriere, who played the last eight seconds in goal! It’s the only time in Canada’s Olympic history that a goalie served his own penalty.

After the Olympics and more exhibition games touring, Dowey returned home and resumed his business career with the TTC. He worked for the company for 44 years, retiring in 1986 as the superintendent of administration. The RCAF Flyers were hailed as heroes for their winning efforts, and the team was later inducted into several Halls of Fame in Canada. Dowey himself was enshrined in the Etobicoke (a west-end area of Toronto) Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.