Frank Frederickson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1895. His parents came from Iceland and spoke only Icelandic in the house. Frank couldn't speak a word of English until he was six years old.
At the time of Frederickson's youth, the Icelanders in Winnipeg were treated as a second class minority group and Frank found himself the target of insults when he would return home from school. He was able to find a safety valve through sports.
"My best outlet was hockey. I got my first pair of skates when I was five and had a great time learning to play. School came easy for me. After finishing grade eight I decided I ought to earn a living and got a job as an office boy in a law firm. This turned out to be an excellent move since the firms all sponsored hockey teams then so naturally we had one too.
"I played well and captured the attention of two of our attorneys. They took a great deal of personal interest in me, not just as a hockey player, and urged me to go back to school. So in 1914 I enrolled at the University of Manitoba, took liberal arts courses, and a year later was named captain of the hockey team."
Not long after the outbreak of World War I Frank enlisted in the 223rd Scandinavian Battalion but when he got to England he switched to the Royal Flying Corps. Frank remained an airman until the end of the war - miraculously surviving several close calls.
The closest came on the sea of the Mediterranean. Frederickson was being transferred from Egypt to Italy during World War I when the transporter on which he was a passenger was hit by a German torpedo. Frederickson searched for an empty lifeboat but found none.
"Suddenly, I realized that I had left my violin in my bunk. " recalled Frederickson, who had a love of music as great as his love of hockey. "My violin was very important to me. So, I ran back, got hold of it and gave it to one of the captains of another lifeboat and told him to take good care of it"
Before the ship went down Frederickson found a space on another lifeboat and was carried to safety.
Upon return to Canada, Frederickson looked to resume playing hockey, though mostly for the love of the game. He rejoined the Winnipeg Falcons, and shocked many by claiming the Allan Cup for the senior championship of Canada, defeating the famed University of Toronto.
Moreover, the Allan Cup championship winners would represent Canada at the 1920 Olympics - the first year hockey would be a medal sport.
Frederickson captained the Falcons, who also boasted North American speed skating champion Mike Goodman and giant Slim Halter, long time Falcons like goalie Wally Byron, defensemen Bobby Benson and Connie Johannesson, forward Chris Fridfinnson and rover Huck Woodman. The team easily won the gold medal, outscoring the opposition 29-1 in three games. Frederickson led the way with 12 tallies.
"Winning the Olympic championship was quite a feather in our cap and gave us a lot of publicity," recalled Frederickson. " I had the world at my feet but instead of returning immediately to Canada, I was asked by the Icelandic government to go there to do some experimental flying. As it turned out, I became the first pilot of Icelandic extraction to fly in Iceland."
"I flew from May to September and had to give it up at that time because they couldn't get petrol supplies. Then I went to England to try and get some of the English concerns interested in flying to Iceland but I failed in that and returned to Canada, making a stop in Toronto."
"When I go there, Mayor Church entertained me and asked ' Now that you're back Frank, what do you want to do?' I told him I wanted to join the Canadian air force but didn't think I could get in because there were many senior officer ahead of me. Church was a wonderful guy and a very influential man; when I got home to Winnipeg there was a telegram advising me to report to camp for duty, So, in 1920 I joined the Canadian air force."
"For all intents and purposes it appeared that my career was set for years to come. Life is funny though, and out of the blue I received a letter from Lester Patrick, the Old Sliver Fox of hockey, who was in Victoria, British Columbia, where he had a team in the old Pacific Coast League. It was top notch hockey and Lester offered me what was a substantial contract in those days - $2500 for 24 games. I call it substantial because the rest of the boys were playing for $800 and $900. I couldn't resist the offer and so found myself right back in the middle of hockey again."
Frank spent the next 6 years in the British Columbian capital. His best year was easily in 1922-23 when he led the league in all major statistical categories with 39 goals, 16 assists and 55 points in just 30 games. In 1925 Frederickson scored 6 goals and 9 points in 8 playoff games as the Victoria Cougars became the last non-NHL team to capture the Stanley Cup.
Patrick's hockey league had to fold in 1926. The Victoria Cougars were purchased and moved to Detroit, where they became the NHL's Detroit Cougars. Frederickson too moved to Detroit, playing just 16 games (4 goals and 10 points) before being traded to the Boston Bruins with Harry Meeking for Duke Keats and Archie Briden on January 7, 1927.
Frederickson spent parts of 3 seasons in Boston, his best coming in 1927-28 when he scored 14 goals in 28 games. Frederickson was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Mickey MacKay and $12,000 on December 21, 1928.
After nearly 2 seasons in Pittsburgh Frederickson signed as a free agent with Detroit, now renamed the Falcons. However he by February 1931 he cleared waivers and finished his glorious career with the minor league Detroit Olympics.
Frederickson turned his attentions to coaching the following year, retiring as a player. He first coached in the Manitoba junior leagues before coaching at Princeton University, and later for the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he coached the Famed Kraut Line, during the second World War, leading that squad to an Allan Cup triumph.
Frank was elected to Hockey's Hall of Fame in 1958. He passed away in Toronto, May 28, 1979.
Special thanks to Patrick Houda