Long Shot: How the Winnipeg Falcons Won the First Olympic Hockey Gold.


112 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 978-1-55028-974-9
DDC j796.962097127'43





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


Had Team Canada not elected to wear special sweaters at the 2002 Winter Olympics to honour Canada’s first Olympic hockey champions, the Winnipeg Falcons might have remained a largely overlooked piece of Canadian hockey history. Although Team Canada correctly identified the Toronto Granites as the gold medalists at the first official Olympic Winter Games in 1924, hockey had actually been included in the 1920 Summer Olympics, where the Falcons were victorious. When the error was pointed out, the Winnipeg Falcons were back in the news after some eight decades, and a number of books for juveniles appeared, including Long Shot by sports historian Zweig.


Using a chronological approach and writing in prose simple enough for younger independent readers, Zweig reveals how the long-shot Falcons, a team originally formed in 1909 and composed essentially of Icelandic-Canadian players, managed to overcome the period’s ethnic prejudices and win the 1920 Allan Cup, emblematic of senior amateur hockey supremacy in Canada. That victory also made the Falcons Canada’s representative at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium.


Contemporary young hockey fans will find great differences between the game Zweig describes and how it is played now. For example, today’s NHL teams’ game rosters consist of 20 players, but the Falcons’ numbers were around eight, with most having to play the game’s entire 60 minutes, then divided into two 30-minute halves. Additional features include a glossary of 20 terms (mostly hockey), nine small black-and-white period photos, and 10 text boxes which expand upon something in Zweig’s main text. Recommended.


Zweig, Eric., “Long Shot: How the Winnipeg Falcons Won the First Olympic Hockey Gold.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32757.