The last time Canada played Germany for gold
by Andrew Podnieks|28 MAY 2023
Team Canada at the 1930 World Championship.
photo: Birger Nordmark Collection
As Canada and Germany prepare to do battle for gold at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, a sense of nostalgia enters the conversation as to when these teams last played for gold.

The answer: The last time these two nations played for gold—the ONLY time—was so long ago that the referee of the game was also the president of the IIHF. Paul Loicq. It was so long ago, the IIHF wasn’t even called the IIHF—it went by its original French name LIHG (Ligue international de hockey sur glace).

The game was played outside. Games were three periods of 15 minutes. In fact, it was the first ever World Championship. It was 1930.

The only previous international hockey tournaments (i.e., involving both North American and European teams) were the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympics, but in 1929 the LIHG decided to host a World Championship in non-Olympic years, starting in 1930. And how’s this for a wrinkle to the first one in 1930? Because Canada was considered so superior to all other nations—the U.S. did not participate—it was given a bye directly to the gold-medal game! The other eleven teams played a series of knockout games to determine an opponent for the Canadians, which were represented by a club team called the Toronto CCM. (CCM stood for Canada Cycle and Motor Co.) They wore sweaters that featured a big red maple leaf underneath which was written “CANADAS.”

The tournament started in Chamonix, France, but mild weather played havoc with the schedule. Games were postponed, then re-scheduled at the last minute thanks to a cold spell. There were four “rounds” of knockout play in 1930 (i.e., like tennis, say). Five teams were given byes in round one—Poland, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia—while the other six played games. Germany beat Great Britain, 4-2, to advance, but only after rallying from 2-0 down after the first period. The hero was Erich Romer, the team’s player-coach, who scored three goals for Germany.

In the next round, Germany took care of Hungary, 4-1, Gustav Jaenecke scoring twice. Playing for the third time in as many days, they then beat Poland, 3-1, again after rallying from 1-0 down. Jaenecke scored two more, but after this game and a Swiss 2-1 win over Austria later that day, organizers decided to move the tournament to Berlin, where the winter weather had been more consistently cold. 

As a result, there was a week between games, but finally on February 9 the now-hosts Germans beat the Swiss, 2-1, to advance to the gold-medal game. And guess what? The Swiss led 1-0 after the first, only to see Jaenecke and Romer score to bring victory to the Germans. The next day they faced the CCMs, who had arrived much earlier to play a series of exhibition games across Europe. 

That game for gold was refereed by Loicq, who was the sitting IIHF president and the second-longest serving president ever (1922-47). Germany got just the start it wanted, thanks to a Rudi Ball goal six minutes into the game. But Canada replied 30 seconds later when 24-year-old Gordon Grant scored. Then, in the final minute of the period, Alex Park added one to give Canada the lead.

In the second, it was all Canada. They added two goals to their lead, one each by Grant and Park, and in the third they never let up. Howard Armstrong and Joe Griffin scored two more early on, and Canada skated to an impressive 6-1 win, claiming gold with this single-game victory. The Germans took silver and were proclaimed European champion, a tradition which continued for more than a quarter century as Canada dominated the international game.

None of the Canadian players ever played in the NHL or became well-known pros. Romer, meanwhile, was one of the most successful German players of all time, winning this silver in 1930 and two bronze, one at the World Championship (1934), one at the Olympics (1932). Ball was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2004, and Jaenecke, a teammate with Romer for those three medals in the 1930s, was inducted in 1998 on the strength of seven World Championships and three Olympics.

All in all, a total of 12 teams played 12 games in three countries over the course of eleven days in the winter of 1930. It was a modest start, and Canada never got a bye to the finals again. And now, in 2023, they didn’t get a bye either, having to play nine, hard-fought games to qualify for the gold-medal game, same as Germany.

Is vengeance Germany’s? Or does Canada win consecutive gold against Germany….93 years apart?