Display honours Falcons

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

After almost a century of being snubbed, the Winnipeg Falcons got their due a few years ago.

Today, their memory has an impressive new home.

The Falcons Forever committee, along with Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and True North chairman Mark Chipman, yesterday unveiled a sharp-looking, permanent exhibit at MTS Centre that pays tribute to the Winnipeg team of immigrant Icelanders that won the first Olympic hockey gold medal in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920.

'SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE'

"I'm from the Icelandic community, this has been a part of my heritage, it's been a great story throughout our lives, and something had to be done," Falcons Forever committee chairman Dan Johnson said.

The Falcons have been in the spotlight since 2001, when Hockey Canada announced it would pay tribute -- at the 2002 Winter Olympics -- to the Toronto Granites for winning the first Olympic hockey gold in 1924.

That prompted Falcons supporters to get a campaign going, and Hockey Canada eventually acquiesced. Last year, Canada's men's and junior men's teams wore Falcons jerseys during the World Cup and during a junior exhibition game in Winnipeg.

Descendants of Falcons players travelled from far and wide to attend yesterday's historic ceremony at the north end of the MTS Centre concourse.

"This is the last time you'll have these descendants together," Johnson said.

Winnipeg's Kathy Mikkelson, whose father, Huck Woodman, played for the Falcons, is delighted with the new exhibit.

"(My father) would have been very pleased with it," Mikkelson said. "They've done a wonderful job. Dan and the other fellows on the committee deserve a great deal of the credit. Especially Dan. He's just worked tirelessly to get this done and doesn't take much credit for it."

KEEPING LEGACY ALIVE

Doer has also shown a keen interest in keeping the Falcons legacy alive. He allowed a Falcons mural to be erected at the Legislature in 2002, and the premier said the more recognition the team receives, the better.

"This is a classic case of new Canadians, Icelandic Canadians, playing hockey in the back yard, taking on all the puck teams in Canada and then going on and winning in Antwerp 85 years ago," he said. "It's a great story, and the more people who know about it, the more pride we'll have."

Doer added that the plight of the Falcons serves as a valuable lesson.

"It reminds you (that) you can't rest on your historical laurels," Doer said.

"You gotta keep making sure the story is told properly."


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