Indeed, it was exactly 100 years ago today, 21 February 1921, that history was made. There were three teams – Vancouver Amazons, Victoria Kewpies, and Seattle Vamps – and they played a six-game series, two in each city to determine the champions.
Those cities were chosen because the event was organized by Frank and Lester Patrick, the pioneering brothers who moved from Ontario to western Canada and created the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. In addition to luring the top men away from the National Hockey Association in the east, they wanted to promote women’s hockey, so they organized games which would take place during PCHA games.
The format was simple. The women would play during the first and second intermissions of the men’s games (10 minutes each), and then another 15 minutes after the game. As in the PCHA, games were played seven skaters a side.
Two years previous, the Amazons had played games against a women’s team from Calgary, the Regents, and in 1920 there was one game between the Amazons and the University of Washington during a Vancouver-Seattle PCHA game. But this event in 1921 was the first women’s tournament to feature more than two teams from at least two countries. It was called the International Ladies’ Hockey League.
The Amazons were the most sophisticated and skilled of the three teams. They had played at the 5th annual Banff Winter Carnival a few weeks earlier, finishing second to the Regents, who took home the Alpine Cup for their efforts. Phebe Senkler, the Amazons’ captain, was named Queen of the Carnival! She came from a notable family in B.C., her grandfather having been the first lieutenant-governor of that province and her father a respected lawyer and Queen’s counsel.
The Vancouver Province, which called the home women “lassies” and the visitors “maids,” also gave fans credit for their great enthusiasm. “The crowd, a large part of whom remained for the fray, was greatly interested in the encounter and continuously shouted its encouragement to the local speedsters.”
Carson scored the only goal of the first on a nice shot, one which saw “the puck rising off the ice,” according to the Province’s description. Later in the game, Carson let go another shot from the blue line that “travelled through the air,” an indication that she was the strongest of the women with the fiercest of shots. In goal, Voitkevic stood mostly with her “arms resting on the goal crossbar,” such was her level of idleness as her teammates dominated play.
Controversy ensnared the women prior to Game 2 of the series in Victoria four days later. George Warren, president of the British Columbia Amateur Athletic Union, declared that any woman who played in this series would lose her amateur status because they were playing during and after a professional PCHA game in which fans paid money to watch.
On first blush, this might not have seemed a big deal for the young women, but for Frances Bayley, Evelyn DuBois, and Edna Curry, three members of the Victoria Kewpies, the announcement was significant. They were also serious swimmers, and if they lost their amateur status they could no longer compete in swimming events, local, national, or international.
Undaunted, the women played on, and Vancouver came away victrices once again, this time by a 4-0 count thanks to three goals in the second and an insurance marker in the third (the names of the goalscorers were never recorded).
Warren, true to his word, immediately suspended all players from amateur participation in all sports. “It can’t be helped,” he explained the day after the game. “I am sorry to have to take the action, but the rules say that no amateur can play on the same ice as professionals, where a gate is charged, so I have had to act accordingly. What’s the use of having rules if they are not followed out?”
Game 4, back in Vancouver, was the best of the series. Edna Curry was great in goal for the Kewpies and kept the lethal scoring of the Amazons at bay, but finally in the third period Griffith scored on a hard shot, giving Vancouver a 1-0 win and assuring it of the title with a 3-0 record. Although the score was close, most of the game was played in the Victoria end, and it was only the play of Curry that kept the game close.
At the end of the game, Griffith and Curry were named their team’s best players, and for that distinction each received a box of Purdy’s chocolates. The “Amazons displayed marked superiority and were given a rousing ovation by the crowd at the finish,” according to the Vancouver Sun.
Game 5 was much the same. Vancouver proved the superior team, winning by another shutout, 4-0. Carson again starred, scoring three times, while Betty Hinds added a fourth goal.
In the finale, Frances Bayley scored for Victoria and Jerry Reed for Seattle in a 1-1 tie. The Vamps were incensed when they thought they had scored a second goal, only to be denied by referee Lindsay.
In the end, Vancouver was a perfect 4-0, scoring 14 goals and not allowing one. Victoria finished second with a win, a tie, and two losses, and Seattle finished last with only a tie in four games and a 1-11 goals for and against record.
Although the Amazons continued to play for several years, winning the Alpine Cup the next year in Banff, the Vamps and Kewpies disbanded after this season and never re-formed. In the east, the Preston Rivulettes became the talk of the women’s hockey world in the 1930s, but it was to be many decades before women’s tournaments were the norm.
As for the suspensions issued to Bayley and DuBois? They were rescinded by Warren on 18 August 1921. The suspension to Curry, however, remained in place because this was her second violation!
Results21 February, Seattle 0 at Vancouver 5
25 February, Vancouver 4 at Victoria 0
3 March, Victoria 1 at Seattle 0
7 March, Victoria 0 at Vancouver 1
9 March, Vancouver 4 at Seattle 0
11 March, Seattle 1 at Victoria 1
RostersVancouver Amazons: Amelia Voitkevic (goal), Nora Senkler, Greta Maddison, Betty Hinds, Thelma Elmsley, Kathleen Carson, Nan Griffith, Phebe Senkler (captain), Lorraine Canon, Isabel McLeod
Victoria Kewpies: Edna Curry (goal), Grace Spence, Aileen Mitchell, Mrs. Irwin, May Fielding, Frances Bayley, Eleanor McLennan, Evelyn Dubois, N Kenney, Dolly Fielding
Seattle Vamps: Miss Gravell, Miss Forang (goal), Miss French, Miss Ferris, Miss Pope, Myrie Kjome, Jerry Reed (captain), Miss Haddon, Florence Kjome