Today marks the 201st anniversary of the birth of Canada, and of the original Canada Cup. Get out there and wave those miniature Canadian flags and/or celebrate the life of Dr. Morgentaler.
Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, was born in London on July 1st, 1799. On his thirteenth birthday, he was given a silver chalice into which he poured a bottle of gin and proceeded to make a wish, as was the custom at the time. His wish was to establish a grand international tournament in the sport of shirling, the predecessor of modern ice hockey.
Thus was born the Canada Cup.
Little Lord Stanleyroy, as he was styled, chose Sir George Prevost to head up his Northern Division all-stars, since he was considered "the Babe Ruth of shirling, only better-looking". His opponent, James Madison, was the GM of the Democratic Republicans of the American Shirling League, and was selected to head up the American side.
Madison was angered by the "Boy-King" and his policy of tolling the contracts of many of the U.S. merchant marines who had once played for the Canadian teams, as well as for nixing most of Madison’s trades with the French side. Stanley’s agents would board American ships and ask crewmembers simply, "ASL?", which was annoying to Madison.
The American Shirling League had plans for expansion teams in Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis and Chicago, where Tecumseh’s own Indian Lacrosse League was located, citing some made-up bullshit they called Manifest Destiny and a License to ILL.
Stanley responded by supplying Tecumseh with composite sticks, which were superior to those employed by the Americans, who found themselves questioning whether their Norwegian wood was still any good. Upon hearing of Stanley’s intentions to play a series of international games, Madison immediately doubled the customs duties on Canadian-made hockey sticks, on July 1st, 1812.
The first game of the inaugural Canada Cup was held in Windsor, Ontario, on July 12th. Veteran American forward, William Hull, led the attack, but was repelled by Canadian goaltender, Fort Amherstburg, who recorded a shutout. Mittenstringers of the day regurgitated the narrative that Amherstburg had secretly obtained a copy of the Americans’ playbook two days before the game, ensuring victory for the Canadians. The headline in that day’s Windsor Star read, "Back Off – Get Your Own Sandwich".
Action shifted across Lake Huron, to Fort Mackinac, Michigan. The Canadian coach, Isaac Brock, had demanded that his players paddle their way to the game, much to the amusement of American forward Brendan Shanahan, who later mocked them in the post-game interview. Almost immediately after the puck dropped, the Americans found themselves short-handed, having surrendered defenseman Porter Hanks and forward Chippewa "Good" Will to first period match penalties, as well as a pair of minors to Mary Saline. (A few days later, Hanks would be summoned to Detroit where Colin Campbell charged him with cowardice and sentenced him to decapitation-by-cannonball.) The Canadian powerplay proved too strong, led by Charles Roberts and Robert MacDouall, and the Americans were shut out once again.
The Americans again played host, this time in Sacket’s Harbor, New York. Canada opened the period with a barrage of shots on U.S. goalkeeper, Oneida, who turned them all away. Once again shorthanded, the Americans relied upon the defense pairing of Bellinger and Captain Camp, as well as penalty killing forward, Woolsey. By the time the outnumbered Americans were able to return fire, William Vaughan lobbed a weak wrister toward the net that fell short of the goalmouth, resulting in laughter from the (over-?)confident Canadians. The Americans came out hitting in the second period which led to landing many shots on the Canadian net, because as we all know, hitting leads to higher Corsi rates. With momentum starting to swing in their favour, the U.S. entered the final period tied, for the first time in the series.
In the game’s waning minutes, a shot deflected off Canadian captain, Royal George’s ass, to open the scoring for the Americans. In the ensuing scrum, eight Canadians were killed. After the game, as Phil Esposito was tearfully pleading with CBC television audiences to stop booing and stand by their squad, the organist began playing Yankee Doodle, as the crowd serenaded the arena with three cheers.
The final game scheduled to take place on U.S. soil was held at Brownstown, Michigan (now known as Gibraltar, near Detroit). The Americans needed another win, if they hoped to return to Canada for a fifth and deciding game. Things were looking good for them, as the usually disciplined Canadians were paraded to the box, finding themselves outnumbered 8-to-1, early on (in those days, teams played nine-aside at even strength).
After losing so many men to injury and death in Game Three, the Canadians were forced to call up a bunch of Indian rookies, including top prospect Tecumseh from Shawnee, as well as Chickamauga team captain (Daimee), Wyandot’s top scorer (Roundhead), and minor leaguer, Blue Jacket.
With veteran William Hull missing his flight and being a no-show for the U.S., scoring duties fell to Thomas Van Horne and Josiah "Prairie Chicken" Snelling. The rest of the Americans were relatively untrained and out of shape. Tecumseh’s line was able to skate circles around them, despite being shorthanded. The Canadians went on to win convincingly, killing 18 men en route to the victory and a 3-1 series win. As stipulated in the agreement between Stanley and Madison, the Americans were forced to surrender Detroit as a result, even though American forward, Snelling, was awarded the Most Gallant Player Award.
Undeterred by the rout, Madison requested that the series be replayed the following year, in July 1813, thereby establishing the world’s first regularly-held ice hockey tournament, later renamed the Canada Cup. To commemorate that tourney’s bicentennial today, I guess I should waste another hour or two and recap that one, as well. The fuck did I just get myself into?