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The Saga of 1948
by Patsy Guzzo - Mainstreeter, February 1985

Thirty-eight years ago on February 8th, the Royal Canadian Air Force Flyers Hockey Team (RCAF Flyers) representing Canada in the Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, won
the final game 3-0 against the Swiss National Team, thereby redeeming Canada's lost glory after the 1936 Games in Germany.

After the cessation of hostilities in 1945, a touring hockey team of air-force personnel based in England travelled to sever-al European countries for a series of exhibition games. Doctor "Sandy" Watson, now our leading opthamologist, was the manager and when transferred to Ottawa the following year, had 'visions' of taking an all-airforce team to com-pete in the 1948 Games.

Watson had a willing ally in the Air Commodore, Dave MacKell, an athlete of note in his earlier career. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal W.A. Curtis and the Minister of National De-fense Mr. Brooke Claxton were also hockey fans and listened attentively to the effervescent Sandy Watson who described the glory and prestige such an enterprise would bring to the RCAF.

Signals went out to all air force units in Canada and over 90 hopefuls converged on Ottawa. Workouts were held at the local Auditor-ium where ice was donated
by a generous Tommy Gorman. George Boucher of NHL fame would select the team which then would be coached by his son, Frank, in Europe.

A month prior to departing for the Games, it was found that the team was not of sufficient strength to guarantee victory and other players were added, many of whom were ex-servicemen.

Five were supplied by a local senior team named
Burghs; Andre Laperriere came from Montreal Univer-sity, while three outstand-ing and professional cali-bre players arrived fromToronto: Wally Halder, George Mara and Murray Dowey. At the '48 Olympics, the RCAF Flyers were un-defeated in the eight games played, scoring 69 goals and allowing only five, while getting 5 shut-outs.

The team was universally popular and completed all of its engagements as well as agreeing to play several exhibition games in addit-ion to those already scheduled.

Above all, the club had a distinct Ottawa flavour as eleven were from this area: Red Gravelle, Ted Hibberd, Ab Renaud, Reg Schroeter, George McFaul, Pete Leichnitz, Frank Dunster, Louis LeCompte, Irv Taylor, Patsy Guzzo, Coach Frank Boucher and Manager Sandy Watson.

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