The two teams had both made mincemeat of their opposition. The Canadians had won three games in the preliminary round, over Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Switzerland, by an 85-0 margin and then had wiped out Great Britain in the semifinals 19-2. The U.S. had defeated Belgium, Great Britain and France by the cumulative score of 52-0 and then had beaten Sweden in the semis by 20-0. At one point in the British-American game, the hailstorm of U.S. goals was so demoralizing that the British coach lined up four men across the goal mouth to keep the puck from going in.
The U.S. team was very proud of its goalie, Alphonse (Frenchie) LaCroix, who was from the Boston area, as were most members of the team. His string of goose-egg games gave the Americans a sense of confidence that bordered on arrogance. At one point, a U.S. official quite seriously suggested to a Canadian counterpart that, because there might well be a scoreless tie in the final game, the American team would claim the gold because its average of goals scored to goals against was better than Canada's. The Canadians took this idea lightly at first, but then grew progressively angrier.
The hockey playing surface was 90' X 180', and it was laid out over whichever section of the rink had the most acceptable ice. There were no boards, and the boundaries were formed by tree trunks laid end-to-end. Nets were draped across the areas behind the goals so pucks wouldn't sail off toward the Alps. The sun was a critical factor in some games, because on a clear day it could blind a goalie facing into it. Thus, a team's pregame selection of which goal to defend could be very important. The U.S. and Canadian captains joined the referee at center ice expecting him to flip a coin to determine which team would get its pick. To their surprise, the official asked each man, "How old are you?" The Canadian said 21, the American said 28 and the referee said briskly, "Thank you, gentlemen. The older man will now make his choice of ends."
The game was a furious succession of mass rushes punctuated by heavy collisions. The Canadians scored first, breaking LaCroix' streak. Then they got another goal. Both scores were put in by Harry Watson, 25, a swift, rugged wing from Toronto. In Canada's first three games, Watson had accumulated a staggering 33 of his team's 85 goals. He was an obvious target for the U.S. players, and his nose was bloodied in the first moments of play. He gave as good as he got and served time in the penalty box. Despite the mayhem, Watson scored three goals and had an assist on a fourth. He was a superstar if ever there was one, but when he got home after the Games, he refused to turn pro. Instead he went into the insurance business, in which he prospered until he died in 1957.
Canada won the hockey championship 6-1. When the game was at last over, the teams embraced on the blood-spattered ice. That savage performance ended the Winter Olympics of 1924. On Feb. 5, medals were to be officially awarded at the closing ceremonies, but many winners had already departed. An Austrian skating judge brought Szabo-Plank's gold medal back to Vienna for her, and someone from the U.S. hockey team picked up Jewtraw's and gave it to him later in Boston.
Many of the absentee victors, along with other Olympians, headed for Paris in search of sweet respite. Some found it, some didn't. Thunberg had no money when he arrived and could only wait in anger until his young wife sent him his fare home. Niku tried to enjoy himself at the Moulin Rouge nightclub, but his broken ribs hurt badly when he laughed. The six-man American speed skating team, on the other hand, found Paris a veritable pleasure dome.
William Steinmetz, now 83 and a wealthy man living in Lake Geneva, Wis., had competed in three races at Chamonix; a 12th in the 1,500 meters was his best result. He remembers Paris with much greater pleasure than he remembers Chamonix: "The Folies-Bergère was first on the list. All six skaters and the manager went. There were those nude girls on stage, and they'd come sell you booze at intermission. We bought only coffee or soda pop, but I will tell you that on occasion we stayed out all night, and on one occasion we did wind up with some of those girls."
Jewtraw recalls Paris with such joy that his remarks are often delayed by long bouts of laughter. "Oh God, it was like my first day off the farm," he says. "I called all the girls 'Chérie' no matter what their names were. I was deathly afraid of disease, and I was also afraid of headlines like SKATERS ALL CAUGHT IN FRENCH CATHOUSE. I was so innocent."
Steinmetz recalls this episode involving the naive Jewtraw: "We decided it was time to deprive Charlie of his virginity. I told one of the French girls that he'd never been with a woman. She was very intrigued by this fact, and she went in a room with him. A few minutes later Charlie was yelling at her, 'Get out! Get out! My mother told me about you girls!' She came out mad as hell. Oh, how we laughed."
Upon being told of Steinmetz' tale, Jewstraw laughs until tears roll down his cheeks and then says, "No, no, it was like this. The girl undressed and I said to her, 'I'll give you five dollars, Chérie, on one condition: that you don't tell the boys that we didn't make love.' See, I had made a solemn promise to my darling mother back in Lake Placid not to do anything with the girls in Paris. I meant to keep that promise. Well, for some reason, the girl got mad. She went running into the hall. I yelled at her. She opened another door, and there was Bill Steinmetz, bare naked. And he was with a girl who was also bare naked. But she was from Cleveland not from Paris! Oh God...and Bill was so mad...." Jewtraw cannot continue, because he's laughing too hard.