The first Ice Hockey World Championship started 100 years ago today – strange: on small ice with seven players per team and with “Icelanders” from Canada.

Retro Puck Olympic Games 1920 Antwerp, Belgium; © Franz Berger/Baltics Media

The importance of this World Cup is outstanding today. Because, “Icelanders” from Canada, who literally presented their opponents on the small ice rink in the “Palais de Glace” in Antwerp in front of fine dining viewers, initially knew nothing of their historic title win.

The first ice hockey world champion was honored with the Winnipeg Falcons, which actually only played for shows at the Summer Olympics in April 1920, when most of the players had unfortunately already passed away. Today the World Hockey Championship is an annual event that has contributed greatly to the internationalization of this sport. Franz Reindl, President of the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) and active in various functions in the IIHF since 1996, said: “The World Championship is the locomotive that pulls everything. Without it, this development in ice hockey would not have been possible.”

The national team of Iceland has only been participating in World Cup tournaments since 1999, and the island in the North Atlantic is the origin of the first ice hockey world champion. Because, the Canadian team of “Winnipeg Falcons”, around their captain Sigurdur “Frank” Fredrickson, who represented Canada in the first Olympic tournament from April 23, 1920, were sons of Icelandic immigrants.

Fredrickson recalled: “We tried to limit ourselves to 14, 15 goals, but it was not that easy.” In the final, the Canadians allowed the Swedes to concede their only goal. “They screamed and cheered, shook themselves and our hands,” added Fredrickson. Ice hockey in Antwerp was actually only considered a demonstration sport. Fredrickson and his team were not the first Olympic champions for a long time. It was only in 1983 that the IIHF declared them the first world champions, but the later NHL professional Fredrickson had long since passed away.

It wasn’t until 1930 that the World Federation did not hold the first independent World Cup until 1930 in Chamonix. Initially, Olympic victories also counted as world championship titles, and since 1992 a World Championship has also been played in an Olympic year.

Since the IIHF was founded in 1908, 81 countries have joined. Exotics such as Malaysia and the Philippines, who wanted to compete in the new Division IV, the eighth class of the World Cup system, for the first time this year, but the CONVID-19 pandemic stopped this tournament like 32 other World Cup tournaments. From the top division to the fifth-class U18 women, should be held this year. The 84th World Championship of the Top Division in Switzerland, which was also canceled due to CONVID-19, had a planned record budget of more than 30 million euros. The extent of the financial damage cannot yet be precisely assessed. Franz Reindl added: “Maybe we’ll get off lightly.”