HC Davos - painful learning and high praise
Article - HC Davos - painful learning and high praise
International teams and elite sport, topped with attractive show displays, all in a winter wonderland with a one-of-a-kind atmosphere: the Spengler Cup is a success story, of which the first chapter was written 100 years ago.
An enthusiasm for sports – and hockey, which was gaining in popularity, too - gripped people after World War I. The Spengler Cup was founded and carried out for the first time during this time as well. The participating teams were host HC Davos, Vienna SC, Berlin SV, and Oxford University. And the objective of the tournament was clearly defined in its mission statement. ‘To use athletic interactions to bring together the youth of enemy nations from WWI.’
HCD opened the tournament, which later became its lifeline, with a loss. On December 28, 1923, the team from Grisons lost 4-0 to Vienna SC, which went on to finish the tournament in second place. At the time it was said that it had been a promising game, in which especially Vienna had demonstrated its good coordination and speed. And that Davos had played at eye level in their first Spengler Cup match, despite what the final score may indicate.
Goaltender Charlie Fasel, Dr. Paul Müller (captain), Albert “Tiger” Geromini, Fritz Kraatz, Alfred Punz, Heini Meng und Alexander “Tuggi” Spengler as well as bench players Morosani, Holsboer, Rüedi and Rössel dressed for HC Davos that day. The hosts finished in last place after losing to Berlin SC (4-2) and Oxford University (8-1) as well. From an athletic performance perspective, young HCD learned the hard way in their first Spengler Cup, which was impaired by heavy snowfall. Nonetheless, the newspaper “Sport” gave the locals, the underdogs who had battled courageously against the favourites from the large European cities, high praise.
The victorious team from Oxford University was lead at the 1923 Spengler Cup by Lester Pearson, who was a WWI veteran and later in his life personified the Spengler Cup’s mission statement; as a mediator during the Suez crisis in 1956 and as Nobel peace prize winner, to name just two examples. An academic, son of wealthy upbringing, scholar at an elite English university, and of Canadian origin, Pearson was the epitome of the typical hockey player of the 1920s, as the sport was shaped by the Anglo-Saxon elite.
The encounters with international top teams at the Spengler Cup helped the newly founded HCD build a powerful squad. The overpowering opponents they faced in their tournament debut served as teachers, noted the newspaper “Sport”. HC Davos had taken advantage of the opportunity to improve against these strong adversaries to a point in which the following year they had become serious opponents even against foreign teams. The prophecy should hold true, as already the following year HCD reached the final, which it lost to Berlin SC 5-2. However, HCD did truly grow thanks to these foreign opponents, with which they were able to build exceptional athletic contacts outside of the Spengler Cup as well.
Text: SLAPSHOT – das Hockey-Magazin der Schweiz Foto: Archiv Spengler Cup