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THIS DAY IN VANCOUVER: January 5th

January 5, 2012 | by  |  This Day In Vancouver

1912:

Vancouverites flock to the arena on Georgia Street for a chance to see the Vancouver Millionaires play against the New Westminster Royals, as the two teams compete in the city’s very first official game of ice hockey.

“Real hockey has never been seen here before, so if the good people of the city who have sport at heart fail to be present at the exact minute of 8:30 pm, they will miss an epochal minute in the sporting life of the province,” reports the morning edition of the Vancouver Sun.

“Only a small percentage of the city’s population has been privileged to see the game played in other parts of Canada,” agrees the Vancouver Province, “and to over fifty per cent of the attendance this evening the game will be very much of a novelty.”

Ice hockey has been wildly popular throughout eastern and central Canada, as well as portions of the United States and Europe, since it was first played at McGill University in 1875. With  leagues having sprung up all over the country, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (later renamed the Stanley Cup) being created in 1892, and many Canadian cities already having their own hockey rinks, the Pacific Coast Hockey League is a relatively late addition to the game.

“One feature of hockey which makes it so popular everywhere is its simplicity,” explains the Province, going on to detail the rules of this new sport. “The result of the game means a lot to the two contesting teams. If Westminster wins it means that that aggregation will strengthen its hold on the championship, a hold it first obtained when the team beat Victoria right in the Capital City’s own bailiwick on Tuesday evening last. And Playing Manager Jimmy Gardner is going to have a host of fans over from the Royal City to create enthusiasm and see that his men are properly encouraged to exert their best efforts to cop off the second game of the season against their old time rivals on the field of sport.”

Despite their rookie status, the fledgling Millionaires manage to defeat the Royals by a margin of 8-3.

“It was not Stanley Cup hockey by any means. It was simply individual brilliance in play which took the hearts of the fans on a toboggan, and for that reason, it was a good hockey match,” reports the Province. “Vancouver has yet to be educated up to the hockey game. When it is, there will be better games played than that witnessed last night, because the people will demand them.”

The Millionaires will go on to win the Stanley Cup in 1915, marking the only time the trophy has been awarded to a Vancouver hockey team.

 

IMAGE: Image of an unnamed player for the Vancouver Millionaires, circa 1920s. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library.

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