Lake Placid ’32 : Germany Had A Ball

RUDI BALL nets one of his 19 career international goals for Germany

RUDI BALL nets one of his 19 career international goals for Germany

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Seventy-eight years ago on this day, the German national team celebrated the first of its two greatest days of all-time at the Winter Olympics.

The world-wide economic depression had reduced the ice hockey competition at the Lake Placid Games in 1932 to a field of just four teams. Thus, all but one squad were sure to receive an Olympic medal. In spite of all this, the Germans had arrived in upstate New York with legitimate aspirations, anyway, after having won both the silver medal for the World Championships as well as the European title at the 1930 tournament that was started in Chamonix, France, but moved to Berlin as a result of bad weather.

Only two changes had been made to German Aussenkapitan (player-coach) ERICH ROEMER’s team from the 1930 champion squad — the two new players being forwards WERNER KORFF of Schlittschuhclub Berlin and Sportclub Riessersee’s GEORG STROBL.

Germany got its 1932 Winter Games off to the right start with a critical 2-1 defeat of Poland thru a pair of Blitztore (lightning goals) from GUSTAV JAENECKE and MARTIN SCHROETTLE. Jaenecke, a 23-year-old left wing from Schlittschuhclub Berlin, scored nine goals in six games at the 1930 World Championships and entered the Lake Placid tournament Germany’s all-time leading goal-scorer at major international events with 16 goals in 14 games.

As expected, the Germans lost all four contests against the North American continent’s teams. The first of those, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Canada, was respectable; the pair of losses the silver medalist United States by the combined count of 15-0 was rather disappointing. Nonetheless, one final match with Poland still provided opportunity for the Olympic bronze medal at the III Winter Games for the black-sweatered German sqaud.

The Poles were not prepared to go quietly but, following a scoreless first period, 21-year-old RUDI BALL sent the Germans in front. Poland pulled level two minutes into the third period of play but 120 seconds later Ball, the 5’4″ 140-pound linemate of Jaenecke for both club and country, put Germany back in front. The rookie Strobl shot a third goal for the Fatherland while Ball then bagged his third goal of the game to set the final score at 4-1 for Germany.

For Rudi Ball, who scored one goal in five games for Germany at the 1930 World Championships, it is the break-out match of his distinguished international career. It also marked the very first time a German player performed the ‘hat trick’ at the Winter Olympics. Ball also added two assists at the 1932 Lake Placid Games and was, therefore, involved in five of Germany’s seven total goals at the tournament. 

The bronze medal in 1932 would represent the finest German hour at the Winter Olympics for the better part of the next half century.

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