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The Legion Team

Forgotten Hockey in Waterloo, 1927-1930
Narrated by: Tim Harwood
Length: 4 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

For more than half a century, generations of hockey fans in northeast Iowa have given their allegiance to the Waterloo Black Hawks. Few realize that decades before the Black Hawks arrived, a long forgotten club captivated Waterloo during the late 1920s, playing in front of crowds even larger than those who come to the rink today, and beating teams from Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Canada. Sponsored and administered by the Becker-Chapman American Legion Post, a contemporary newspaper report noted, "Hockey's popularity eclipses any other winter sport; the game took such a foothold that the city would be lost without its regular hockey matches now."

The Legion Team: Forgotten Hockey in Waterloo, 1927-1930, seeks to revive the memories of this overlooked era, detailing every game the Becker-Chapman squad played during four winters. However, beyond the wins, losses, and game details; the athletes who came to the Cedar Valley for the opportunity to play, their opponents, and Waterloo of that era, come to life.

©2013 Tim Harwood (P)2015 Tim Harwood

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  • LSmith
  • Upstate New York
  • 10-11-18

Great book on a forgotten hockey team

The city of Waterloo, Iowa is the home for the Waterloo Black Hawks, a junior hockey team playing in the United States Hockey League. While they are the only team currently playing in the city, they are not the first team. There was an amateur team that played in the 1920’s sponsored by an American Legion post that captured the fancy of fans in Waterloo. This book by Tim Harwood attempts to revive the memories of that team.

Because the players on those squads are no longer with us and details of the games and the teams are difficult to obtain, this book is a work of dedication for the author as he painstakingly brings the details of the team, its games and its home in a manner that is easy to read or listen to. The reader will not only learn about the team sponsored by the Becker-Chapman American Legion Post, but the book starts out by telling the story of the two men who died in World War I and whom the Post was named for. Neither of them played hockey (both were football stars) but their stories set the stage for the beginning of hockey in Waterloo.

The club, sometimes referred to as the Hawks, was not a professional team nor was it affiliated with any other club or league. Throughout its existence, it never traveled to another city for a game. Instead, teams from cites as far away as Chicago, St. Paul and Winnipeg came to Waterloo where they faced a club that won more games than it lost and would play in front of several thousand enthusiastic fans. The arena did not have the capability to make artificial ice, so the games were only played when it was cold enough to have natural ice inside.

The book is a nice summary of the games played throughout the four year history of the Becker-Chapman team, with enough detail provided that a reader or listener will comprehend just how good the team was and the enthusiasm of the fans. Some games are filled with details like specific goal scorers, statistics and attendance while a few are not covered in as great detail. It was all dependent on the newspaper accounts at that time since statistics were not kept and being an independent team, there were no league archives to research.

The rules of the games for the team and in that era are also explained and some of them are quite different from today. The team often carried only eight or nine players, so some of them played the entire sixty minutes. Imagine a superstar player today like Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid playing an entire game with no shifts. The ice wasn’t always smooth – not only from the conditions of the arena and weather, but also because the rink was also used for public skating.

The end of the team’s run in Waterloo was due to economics. The Great Depression was in full swing and like so many other businesses, the American Legion had to cut back on expenses and one of them was hockey. While the first two years produced a small profit, the fourth year resulted in a small financial loss and the Legion did not want to sink further in the hole with the team, so it folded. When it did so, a chapter of Iowa hockey ended with it and this book does a great job of bringing that team back to life. While a short book without a lot of depth on the team’s players, it nonetheless will inform the reader about that era of hockey and is recommended to be added to the library of any hockey fan.