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49 Days Until The Season Begins

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Cam Lewis
28 days ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 49, we have the Edmonton Mercurys, a team that won gold at both the World Hockey Championships and the Olympics after being named Team Canada in 1949.
The Mercurys were an intermediate senior-level hockey team that was established and sponsored by James Christianson, an immigrant from Denmark who had a Mercury car dealership in Edmonton. Playing in the Western Intermediate League, the Mercurys were comprised of players who had graduated from playing junior-level hockey and many of them worked at the dealership.
In August of 1949, it was announced by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association that the Mercurys would represent Canada at the 1950 World Ice Hockey Championships in England. The Mercurys weren’t considered the best team in Canada at the time but sending a team from one of the top-flight leagues was said to be “an impractical impossibility.”
This was because of strict regulations around who was considered to be an amateur rather than a professional, which was a condition to participate in events like this and the Olympics. The Mercurys had won the 1948-49 Western Intermediate League title and were thus selected as the intermediate-level team that would represent Canada.

Newspaper Clipping from The Winnipeg Free Press from August 15, 1949.

PLAYER COUNTDOWN PRESENTED BY BETWAY


There was a condition that the Mercurys had to go on a three-month tour of Great Britain and Europe and play a series of exhibition games to prove to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association that they were “of a calibre to represent Canada adequately.”
The Mercurys breezed through their exhibition games and carried straight into the tournament in London, England. They opened up with a 13-2 win against Switzerland and then pounded Belgium by a score of 33-0 the next day.
After shaving off three teams from the tournament, Canada was among the six teams that advanced to the Final Round. The Mercurys plowed through the final round with wins over Switzerland, the United States, Norway, Great Britain, and Sweden to win the tournament with a 42-to-3 goal differential.
In July of 1951, the CAHA announced that the Mercurys would again represent Canada, this time at the 1952 Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway. Seven teams applied to represent Canada in the Olympics (Edmonton Mercrurys, Winnipeg Buffalos, St Francis Xavier University, Trail Smoke Eaters, Noranda Copper Kings, Cornwall Falcons, and Smith Falls Rideaus) but the Mercurys were ultimately selected because of their success the previous year.
The Olympics at this time saw eight teams play each other once with the top team in the standings earning the gold medal. The Mercurys won their first seven games before tying the United States in their final game. Since the United States had lost earlier to Sweden, Canada finished at the top of the standings with a 7-0-1 record.

Newspaper Clipping from The Edmonton Journal from April 1, 1952.

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