Hockey

Canada's Destruction of Denmark, and the Most Lopsided International Hockey Games

Sixty-eight years ago this week, Canada crushed Denmark 47-0 at the world amateur ice hockey championship in Stockholm. There's been even bigger blowouts since.

by Mike Commito
Feb 9 2017, 6:55pm

Photo courtesy Sudbury Wolves and Sudbury Community Arena

Each week, VICE Sports takes a look back at an important event from sports history for Throwback Thursday, or #TBT for all you cool kids. You can read previous installments here.

Sometimes hockey teams simply have a bad game. Often, the bounces just don't go their way or they run into a hot goaltender. Other times, you're Team Denmark and you get shutout while allowing 47 goals against. It's all just part of the game.

Sixty-eight years ago this Sunday, Denmark was rocked 47-0 by Canada in the opening game of the world amateur ice hockey championship in Stockholm. At the time, it was the most lopsided international hockey game in history. It easily eclipsed the previous mark set a year earlier at the 1948 Winter Olympics, when the United States trounced Italy 31-1.

Although Canada had already well-established itself as a hockey powerhouse by this point, having won five golds in the last six Olympics, no one expected this type of clobbering. For starters, Canada's representative at the tournament was the Sudbury Wolves, a "B-level" club from Northern Ontario, which caused some to question the team's credentials.

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But the pack quickly dispelled those critiques when it ravaged Denmark in its first matchup. After the first period ended, the Wolves were up by a baker's dozen and when the second frame concluded, it was a 29-0. The Canadians, with their appetites not quite satiated, added another 18 markers in the third for good measure. With the game already all but decided early on, the Globe and Mail reported that fans kept themselves entertained by placing bets on whether the Wolves would reach 50.

A scene from the Canada-Denmark bloodbath. Photo courtest Sudbury Wolves and Sudbury Community Arena

It was an ugly loss for Denmark, but you have to cut the Danes a little slack. They had only just recently joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), not even two years earlier, and were still just honing their skills, evidenced by the fact newspapers reported that the club was rarely able to advance the puck beyond centre ice throughout the game.

While Denmark licked its wounds following that contest, Canada made short work of Austria, winning its second game 7-0 and exiting the group stage +58 on goal differential, with zero goals against. Although the Wolves seemed unstoppable, at least when preying on the weak, they faltered in the final round, going 2-2-1 and conceding the gold medal to Czechoslovakia.

When word of Canada's results reached home, the Wolves caught an earful. In a scathing review, famed sports writer Jim Coleman wrote, "if a worse team than the Sudbury Wolves has represented Canada in international hockey competitions, we haven't heard of it." That's pretty harsh for a club that had just set a new record for the most goals in an international game.

Although those words may have hurt the Wolves momentarily, Denmark had to live with the infamy of that tournament for the next 40 years. That was, until, New Zealand's national team, the Ice Blacks, were shelled 58-0 by Australia at the 1987 World Ice Hockey Championships.

To be fair, the deck was stacked against New Zealand. Not only was it making its international ice hockey debut, it was also facing an Australian team that was loaded with Canadians and Finns who were playing "down under." Reflecting on that game a couple of years ago, Ice Blacks player Graham Glass said, ''I think we were just stunned because every time the puck dropped, next thing, 'boom, boom,' and it was another goal.'' Australia ended up winning its division with a +171 goal differential, leading the IIHF to revamp its eligibility requirements for foreign-born players at future tournaments.

Although that first game at the '87 Worlds was a dark moment in New Zealand hockey history, the Kiwis didn't have to bear that cross for too long. Just over a decade later, Thailand was vanquished by South Korea at the IIHF Asian Oceania U18 tournament in a loss that made New Zealand's pale in comparison.

In a game that set a new benchmark for the biggest win in international hockey, South Korea put up basketball numbers as it battered Thailand 92-0. Even if their opponents only dressed half their roster, Thailand still would have suffered an overwhelming defeat. Unless maybe one of those sitting players happened to be Song Dong-hwan.

He was responsible for more than a third of his team's output, with some sources saying that he contributed as many as 33 goals. The official game sheets reveal that he actually scored 30 times, including five straight in a span of just over three minutes in the second period. But Dong-hwan didn't stop there, he also recorded five assists for good measure.

Official game sheet from South Korea vs. Thailand. This page shows that by the time South Korea had 22 goals, there was still over 7 minutes left in the first period. Source: Hockey Hall of Fame, D.K. (Doc) Seaman Hockey Resource Centre

By the first intermission, South Korea had already put 71 shots on net, and scored every 33 seconds to go into the break with a 36-0 lead. In the final two frames, it outshot its opponents 105-1, as it added another 56 goals. When all was said and done, the scorekeepers had to fill out a five-page game report just to record all of those goals. As you might have guessed, the South Koreans ended up winning the championship, the Black Dragon Cup, while their Thai counterparts went 0-5 with a -214 goal differential, but were awarded the Fair Play Cup.

It's worth noting that less than a month later, at the European juniors, Kazakhstan inflicted similar damage, but still nowhere on the same scale. It opened the tournament by thrashing Iceland 63-0 and then defeating Luxembourg 39-0. This was actually Kazakhstan's first foray in the European U18, as it previously would have played in the Asian Oceania competition. One can only imagine how its matchups would have gone if the Kazakhs were still in that group that year. Unsurprisingly, they went on to win their division, guided by the incredible performance of future NHLer Nik Antropov who recorded 54 points (23G, 31A) in just five games.

While Iceland certainly felt Kazakhstan's wrath in 1998, eight years later, it got revenge by proxy at the World Juniors. There, in Division III, Iceland opened the tournament with a 50-0 over Armenia. It was a baptism by fire for the Armenian juniors, who were playing in their first-ever game at the international level. They only mustered up 10 shots against the Icelanders, but you have to give full marks to their goalie, Harutyun Baluyan. He stayed in net for the entire game, and although he allowed 50 goals against, he still managed to turn away another 83 shots. It's almost unfathomable that, despite having a save count well into the 80s, your save percentage could still only hover around .624 percent.

Although South Korea still has the honour of inflicting the biggest hockey loss on the international stage, and probably will for some time, we'd be remiss if we didn't conclude with Slovakia's 2008 women's team. That year, in Olympic qualifying competition, Slovakia blew the doors off Bulgaria 82-0 in what would be largest margin of victory in an IIHF women's game. It wasn't even close.

The Slovaks ran up the score by registering 139 shots, and kept its opponents from even firing the puck on net. It's no wonder that tempers flared up during the matchup, and continued to boil over in the postgame comments. Taking a rather cavalier approach, Slovakia coach Miroslav Karafiat said his team "took it as training." Meanwhile, it was reported that Dobromir Krastev, chair of the Bulgarian Hockey Federation, called it, "an insulting mockery, and is not at all sportsmanlike."

No one wants to be on the wrong end of the most lopsided victories in international hockey, but it sure makes for good stories for the rest of us—#tbt to some of the biggest blowouts in hockey history.