|Canada's Brian Conacher scoring against Switzerland|
MONTREAL (CP) - Canada's Olympic hockey team stickhandled it's way through a last round of interviews late Monday night to board a plane for Paris and a 10-game exhibition tour of Europe that will complete it's warmup activities for the Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria.
The 21-member team coached by Rev. David Bauer received a final blessing from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, which met in Toronto and ratified the amateur status of all it's players. Questions had been raised about the eligibility of defence man Rod Seiling, it's latest recruit.
Seiling, who joined the team from Toronto Marlboros of the OHA junior A group, had a trial with Rochester Americans of the professional AHL earlier this season and played once for the parent Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL last year.
And with that, Canada's hopes for a gold medal departed their homeland enroute to the Olympic Games. This was the first time that the CAHA by way of Father David Bauer would have a full-time National squad. Bauer, ex-coach of St. Mikes hockey program in Toronto, gathered the top amateurs in university and Senior A hockey and formed a team in the fall of 1963. His two main goals were to bring a gold medal home to Canada, and to serve as a model team for educators and pro-hockey men disproving the archaic adage that you can't be a good hockey player and a good student as well.
In his 1970 autobiography "Hockey In Canada, The Way It Is", Brian Conacher described the early stages of the 1964 team's development.
When the two week camp at the University of Alberta ended, twenty-two players returned to Vancouver to take up our fall residence at the University of British Columbia. 'Residence' is a somewhat elegant term for the house in which the team actually lived. When we moved in, with eight players in the main house and the remainder in a pre-fab cottage, we had to make do with only one bathroom.
The first few weeks of practice were really weeks just for conditioning and breaking down each boy from his previous system of play, so that Bauer could then rebuild each player into a key link in his team. By early October (1963) we were ready to put on our sweaters for the first time as Canada;s 1964 Olympic Hockey Team. Our first three games were against three of the Western Professional teams that were just getting ready to start their season. In our first game against the Vancouver Canucks we lost 3-2, but bounced back in the next game to beat the Seattle Totems 3-1. In the last game of the series the Portland Buckaroos shut us out 4-0.
I found mention of that very first game in a Canadian Press snippet dated October 2, 1963. The game between the WHL Canucks and the National team (described here as "composed mostly of University of British Columbia players who are coached by Rev. David Bauer" was played at Chilliwack, BC before 620 spectators. The Olympic squad held a 1-0 lead after one period and a 2-1 lead after two before Vancouver defence man Ron Mathhews scored a pair in the third for a 3-2 win. Ray Cadieux and Roger Bourbonnais scored for Canada and Larry Popein had the other for the Canucks.
More to come in the next few days following the progress of Canada's first truly National team on this it's 50th anniversary.