Today I interviewed Andrew Gilpin, self-described "old-time hockey player" and a member of Canada's 1948 Olympic team, the RCAF Flyers. Andy is still quick-witted and has a fine memory for hockey events, from the age of five until sixty-eight, when he hung up his stick (but not his skates) for good. He grew up in Montreal, around the corner from Doug Harvey, playing with and against the likes of Ken Mosdell, Maurice Richard, and Pat Desbiens, among others.
Born in 1920, Gilpin's path to professionalism was broken by the war but he had a successful career as an amateur playing on RCAF teams in service leagues, alongside many professionals like Paul Platz, Chuck Rayner, Bobby Kirk and others. Gilpin claims the first slap shot he ever saw was from Platz's stick (it wasn't too accurate). Gilpin's high level of play was exemplified by his scoring a hat trick in a game against Rayner. After the third goal the future Hart Trophy winner went after him with his stick.
Gilpin has many stories about the 1948 Olympic experience, team manager Sandy Watson, coach Frank Boucher, player George Mara and others. I hadn't realized that the team had trouble getting out of Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover in February 1948, an event that occurred right in the middle of their tour of the country! Gilpin's comments were reported on the front page of the Toronto Daily Star of February 28, 1948, certainly one of the first first-hand accounts of the event.
This interview will add to my research on Hockey in the Second World War, a future book project.