RULES OF PLAY
The rules of the Games called for seven-man hockey (the six modern positions as well as a rover) and games would be divided into two, twenty-minute halves separated by a ten-minute intermission. Tie games would go into overtime until a winner was decided. No substitutes were allowed, and if a man were injured, one from the other team had to come off the ice to even things up. This happened in the second half of Canada's game against Sweden when Connie Johannesson was injured. Both teams played six a side while he recovered from blocking a shot, and in the five minutes he was off Canada scored five goals.
Canadian rules of play were adopted for these Olympics, thanks entirely to the force of argument presented by William Hewitt (father of Foster), whose knowledge of hockey brought him instant respect in the international hockey community. In fact, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) was so impressed by Hewitt they gave him the honour of refereeing the first match in the history of Olympic hockey, Sweden versus Belgium.
Incredibly, there were four goal judges, two at each end, a group of timekeepers, and a penalty-timekeeper who took his place in the corner of the rink, isolated from his colleagues. Such was the success of Hewitt's competitive, yet gentlemanly, interpretation of the rules as a referee that, at IOC meetings during the course of the Games, the Committee decided to adopt Canadian rules of play for all future international competitions.
Hewitt described the goal nets at the Antwerp Ice Palace as more like "folded gates" than the nets used in Canada, and although painted the traditional red, they were secured to the ice only by short nails. The dimensions of the natural-ice rink were miniscule by Canadian standards, just 165 feet long by 58½ feet wide. The rink was obviously built to accommodate figure skating and ice dancing, not hockey. The boarding was panelled and painted white, making bounces irregular. During games, netting was hoisted all around the rink to protect fans.
Interestingly, chairs and tables were placed at one end and side of the rink so those patrons who wished to dine and drink while watching the hockey action — and listen to an orchestra which played ceaselessly from morning till dark — could do so comfortably (early outdoor luxury boxes, as it were!).
Before each game, the national anthems of the competing teams were played, and after the final bell, O Canada was played again to honour the winning team, the spectators standing in due respect.
THE SKINNY ON CANADA'S OPPONENTS
Sartorially speaking, Team Canada players appeared in black and yellow uniforms with a large maple leaf sewn across the breast of the jersey. They were flummoxed by the appearance of two members of the French team, one who sported a long black beard, the other who was in his early forties and bald!
The Swedes came to the tournament familiar primarily with another form of hockey called bandy, a game which used short sticks like those in field hockey and a large rubber ball. They were delighted and bemused by the "flat" Canadian ball (puck). Bandy was played on ice, but players wore speed skates and the playing area was as large as a soccer field. Thus, the Swedes were elegant skaters, but had little ability to stop and start like the Canadians and even less experience in the art of body-checking.
Also, the Swedes dressed like soccer players, wearing virtually no upper-body padding, no shin guards and very crude hockey gloves. The goaltender wore what Hewitt described as "a cross between a blacksmith's apron and an aviator's coat." As far as their play was concerned, the Swedes improved immensely in their first few days in Antwerp, most notably in their ability to check and control the puck, by watching the Canadians practice. However, when Canada's Mike Goodman refused to sell the Swedes his skates after the tournament (all the Americans gladly turned a profit), they became certain Goodman had a motor concealed in the tube of his boot or blade somewhere! A month before leaving for Europe, Goodman had, in fact, won the North American speed-skating championship.
The Czechs, meanwhile, were dismissed by Hewitt out of hand: "They run on their skates with clumsy movements and use wrist shots, and their play is all individual," he noted. The Americans, with so many Canadians on their team (see below), were clearly the only other competition in the tournament.