Hockey Central
Canadian College Hockey – Part 1
Hockey's Best-kept Secret
Once called Canada's best kept secret, collegiate hockey no longer takes a back seat in the country's hockey community. With 33 schools icing teams during the 1997-98 season, the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union continues a rich tradition of hockey excellence that dates back to 1877 when McGill University of Montreal formed the first organized hockey club. In 1886 Queen's University and the Royal Military College of Canada ushered in intercollegiate hockey when they played the first organized game in Kingston, Ontario. Since then Canadian University teams have competed for the Stanley Cup, Allan Cup and Memorial Cup. Canadian college players have skated in the NHL and on the international stage at the Olympics, World championships and World Student Games.
The Early Years
Although the precise origins of the game of hockey remain strongly debated by historians, what can be proven is that the game of ice hockey evolved in Canada, and that the first recorded game to be played indoors took place in Montreal at the Victoria Skating Rink on March 3, 1875. That historic contest had its first connection with Canadian universities as the two teams of nine players were composed of, and captained by, students from McGill University. Serving as captain of one of the teams was James George Aylwin Creighton, who drafted the first rules for ice hockey after he and other friends, including fellow McGill classmate Henry Joseph, tried to play lacrosse on skates at the Victoria Rink. Creighton's team was victorious in this first game by a 2-1 score.

In 1877 McGill became the first university in the world to ice an intercollegiate team. The McGill University Gazette of February 1, 1877, reported that McGill students officially formed an organized ice hockey club and played its first game against the Montreal Victorias. McGill's first officially organized game was a 2-1 victory over the Victorias on January 31, 1877. In its first season of hockey, McGill would finish with a 2-1 record in three games against the Victorias.

The roster of McGill's first ice hockey team consisted of Archibald Dunbar Taylor, who was elected the team president, Harry Abbott (team captain), R.J. Howard, Fred Torrence, Lorne Campbell (goalie), W. Redpath, Nelson, Coverhill and Dawson. This group of students were the first in a long line of student-athletes who have represented McGill in an intercollegiate hockey program that continues to this day.

In 1883 the Montreal Winter Carnival hosted the first ice hockey tournament. Three teams were featured in the competition as McGill was joined by the Montreal Victorias and a team from Quebec City. The tournament rules stipulated that the teams would consist of seven men and that two 30-minutes halves would be played with a 10-minute intermission. McGill defeated the Victorias 1-0 and then tied Quebec 2-2 to win the world's first official hockey championship. McGill's victory saw the school receive a silver cup, then valued at $750. The original trophy, along with a replica of the game puck, is on display at McGill's McCord Museum of Canadian History. The championship McGill squad, whose names are engraved on the trophy, consisted of goalie A.P. Low, point J.M. Elder, cover point P.D. Green and forwards Richard W. Smith, W.L. Murray, J.A. Kinlock (captain) and P.L. Foster.

On December 8, 1886 the first official hockey league, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, was formed in Montreal. McGill was one of five charter members of the AHA's senior division which also included the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, the Montreal Victorias, the Ottawa Hockey Club and the Montreal Crystals. The first game played in league history took place on January 7, 1887 as the Crystals earned a 3-1 victory over McGill.

While McGill was an integral part of the development of hockey and its rules in the Montreal area, graduates of the school also helped to organize and develop the game in other locations. One McGill grad, Edward Thornton Taylor, went to Kingston, Ontario and introduced the game to the cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada in 1877.

Kingston was a hotbed of hockey as early as 1855 when a form of the game was played on the frozen harbor by British soldiers stationed in the area. Along with the cadets at RMC, Kingston was also home to Queen's University and this proximity saw the schools become arch rivals. The rivalry began with football and in 1886 the RMC cadets challenged Queen's to a game of hockey – the first organized intercollegiate game in history.

A community skating rink just off shore from the Fort Frontenac barracks was the site of the game. The rink featured a large wooden bandstand in the middle of the ice, which prevented the opposing goalies from seeing one another. Despite this obstacle, the game was played in a spirited manner. Lennox Irving, captain of the Queen's squad, became the first player to score a goal in intercollegiate play as he netted the winner in a 1-0 victory. A Queen's account says the winning goal was scored by Irving, "an excellent skater", who "swept up to the RMC goal, bounced the puck off the goalie's shoulder, struck the rebounding puck in mid air, and knocked it into the goal for the game."

The next season RMC gained the revenge with a 4-0 victory over Queen's and the collegiate game was on its way in Canada.

Ten seasons after playing the first intercollegiate game, Queen's recorded another first as the Golden Gaels became the first, and only, collegiate team to challenge for the Stanley Cup. In 1895 Queen's made its first three challenges for Lord Stanley's Cup when they faced-off against the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association on March 9, 1895. Montreal AAA won the challenge defeating Queen's 5-1. Queen's would also challenge for the Cup in 1899 and 1906. In March 1899 the Golden Gaels lost 6-2 to the Montreal Shamrocks and in 1906 they dropped two games to the Ottawa Silver Seven by Scores of 16-7 and 12-7 on February 27 and 28. For Queen's, it was their final attempt at winning the Stanley Cup and it marked the last time that a collegiate team would compete for hockey's most illustrious trophy. Although Queen's failed to win the Stanley Cup, it did capture the 1909 Allan Cup as Canada's senior amateur champions.

Marty Walsh was a member of the Queen's team during the Golden Gaels' Stanley Cup challenge in 1906 and although he did not win the prized trophy for his university, Walsh would later sip champagne from the Cup. In 1907-08 he scored 28 goals for the Ottawa Senators to tie for the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association goal-scoring lead with Russell Bowie of the Montreal Victorias. Walsh and the Senators won the Stanley Cup in 1908-09 and he was a member of the Ottawa team that successfully defended the Cup against challengers from Galt and Edmonton early in the 1909-10 season. Walsh scored six goals in Ottawa's 12-3 win over Galt on January 5, 1910. It would be one of several high-scoring games for the talented Kingston native as Walsh scored six-or-more goals in four games during his career. He netted a career-high 10 goals against Port Arthur in a Stanley Cup challenge on March 16, 1911 as he fell four goals shy of the Cup record for goals in a game set by Frank McGee of the Ottawa Silver Seven in 1905.

Walsh's next Stanley Cup victory came in 1910-11 as the Queen's alumnus helped Ottawa win the championship of the National Hockey Association (forerunner of the NHL) and defeat Galt and Port Arthur in Stanley Cup challenges. In total, Walsh scored 25 goals in eight Stanley Cup playoff games and was a scoring leader in each of the Eastern Canada Hockey Association and the NHA. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

During the final decade of the 19th century, McGill hockey enjoyed one of its most historic eras as four players who went on the become Honoured Members of the Hockey Hall of Fame skated for the Montreal school. Fred Scanlan, Arthur F. Farrell and Harry J. Trihey were members of McGill's hockey team from 1898 to 1900 and Charles Graham Drinkwater was a member from 1894 to 1898. This quartet of McGill stars, along with Jack Brannen, who also skated for McGill from 1898 to 1900, would combine to win 12 Stanley Cup championships. Three of the McGill skaters – Trihey, Scanlan and Farrell – formed one of the Wanderers forward lines on early hockey history and helped the Montreal Shamrocks win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 1899 and 1900. Trihey, the captain of both Shamrock championship teams, netted a hat trick and Farrell scored twice in Montreal's 6-2 win over Queen's in 1899. Trihey and Drinkwater were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950. They were joined by Farrell and Scanlon in 1965.

Three more future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame would join McGill in the 1900s as Lester Patrick and Billy Gilmour made their debut in a McGill uniform in 1900-01. They would be followed by Patrick's younger brother, Frank, in 1904. All three players would become McGill captains and would go on to win several Stanley Cup championships. Lester Patrick would win the Stanley Cup as a player with the Montreal Wanderers in 1906 and 1907 and later win four more as a coach and general manager with the Victoria Cougars in 1925 and the New York Rangers in 1928, 1933 and 1940. The younger Patrick was a playing-manager with the Vancouver Millionaires when they won the Cup in 1915. Gilmour won three consecutive Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Ottawa Silver Seven in 1903, 1904 and 1905.

The Next Step

As the game of hockey became more popular and gained increased recognition throughout Canada, the intercollegiate version of the sport also continued to grow. Ever since the first game between Queen's and RMC in 1886, universities had been adopting the sport as part of their athletic programs with teams taking to the ice throughout the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec. These teams played at a variety of levels of competition ranging from intramural to senior levels, including the Stanley Cup challenges of Queen's University. There were some intercollegiate games played during this time, but there was no official league for college teams.

Included among the early intercollegiate games were three of major significance. Two decades after McGill met Harvard University in the first international collegiate football game, the schools met on the ice at Victoria Rink in Montreal on February 23, 1894. McGill would win the game 14-1 in what is believed to be the first collegiate hockey game to be played between teams from Canada and the United States. Another cross-border match-up took place in December of 1895 when Queen's made a trip to New York and defeated the Yale University Elis 3-0. What would prove to be another durable collegiate hockey rivalry began on February 2, 1895, when Queen's skated to a 6-5 victory over McGill in Kingston.

In 1901-02 an intercollegiate league was proposed after a meeting with several teams in Quebec and Ontario. The Canadian Intercollegiate Hockey Union became a reality on January 7, 1903 when McGill, Queen's and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues officially formed Canada's first collegiate hockey league. The first season saw the CIHU take a small step as only three games were played. McGill won the inaugural "Queen's Cup", which was presented by Queen's University in the first season. The Queen's Cup, which is currently awarded to the champion of the Ontario University Athletics conference, is the second oldest trophy competed for in Canada intercollegiate history.

McGill and Queen's would both win two of the first four CIHU championships before Toronto captured the title in 1906-07. It was the first championship for the Varsity Blues since Toronto began its hockey team on January 15, 1891 and the beginning of one of the most successful program in the country. During their storied history, the Varsity Blues have won the Queen's Cup a total of 41 times, including 10 consecutive seasons from 1919-20 to 1928-29 and eight more times from 1965-66 to 1972-73.

As with McGill, Toronto's early years saw several of hockey's eventual elite involved with the Varsity Blues. Hall of Famer Conn Smythe was the captain of the 1915 Varsity Blues which won the Ontario junior championship. He coached Toronto from 1923 to 1926 and lead the Blues to the 1927 Allan Cup. This victory was the third Allan Cup title for the school as the varsity team had first won the trophy in 1921 after the Toronto Dentals had been victorious in 1917.

The 1927 victory earned Toronto the right to represent Canada at the 1928 Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Varsity Grads won the gold medal with a 3-0 record at the second Winter Olympic Games, out scoring the opposition 38-0.

Smythe is only one of several prominent coaches in Toronto's history. The list also includes former Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson (1926 to 1928), Maple Leaf Ace Bailey (1935 to 1940, 1945 to 1949), Judge Joseph Kane (1962 to 1965), Tom Watt (1966 to 1979, 1985) and Mike Keenan (1984).

The First World War halted intercollegiate play for four seasons from 1915-16 to 1918-19, but the CIHU returned to action in 1919-20. Over the next 21 seasons, from 1919-20 to 1939-40, the CIHU fluctuated in size from a low of two teams in the years following the 1929 stock market crash to four teams. During this span the original three members of the league were joined at various times by teams from the University of Montreal, the University of Western Ontario and Laval University.

In 1936-37 one of the most unique arrangements in intercollegiate sport occurred. That season saw the formation of the International Intercollegiate Hockey League which brought together teams from the CIHU and the U.S.-based Ivy League. McGill, Toronto, Queen's and Montreal were joined by Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth to form an eight-team league which played a 10-game schedule. McGill won the first three IIHL titles from 1936-37 to 1938-39 as they compiled a record of 28-2.

In 1939-40 league membership fell to seven teams as Montreal withdrew from the circuit. Toronto went undefeated with an 8-0-0 record to capture the final championship in IIHL history before the league ceased operations due to World War II.

With the end of World War II, intercollegiate hockey resumed play across Canada. In Ontario and Quebec, the CIHU faded from the scene but was replaced by the four-team Senior Intercollegiate Hockey League which included McGill, Toronto, Queen's and Laval.

While intercollegiate hockey was evolving in Ontario and Quebec, the sport was also enjoying success on the campuses of universities on Atlantic and Western Canada. In the Maritimes, hockey had been played at universities since the late 19th century with competition between Dalhousie, St. Francis Xavier, Kings College and Acadia in Nova Scotia and the University of New Brunswick and Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. These schools formed the Maritimes Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1910 and competed in a variety of sports including hockey, rugby, track, tennis and basketball.

Following the First World War, the MIAA expanded to a total membership of 10 schools and in 1968 the conference became the Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association with the addition of Memorial University of Newfoundland. In April of 1974 the AIAA once again changed its name, becoming the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association.

St. Francis Xavier University, from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was an early powerhouse in the MIAA as the Xavier Men captured 17 of 32 MIAA championships from 1928-29 to 1961-62, including 14 of 18 the titles contested from 1940-41 to 1958-59. The 1950s belonged to the Xavier Men as they won every title from 1950 to 1959, with the exception of 1952-53 when no conference champion was declared because if the collapse of the arena which was hosting the MIAA championship. Also prominent on the East COast was Mount Allison University, winners of six of nine MIAA championships from 1930-31 to 1938-39. The Mounties won three consecutive titles from 1931 to 1933, one in 1935 and two more in 1938 and 1939.

Western Canada was also home to much intercollegiate hockey with teams in each of the four western provinces. The University of Alberta Golden Bears began play during the 1908-09 season as a member of the Edmonton Collegiate League. In Manitoba, the University of Manitoba Bisons were members of the local Winnipeg hockey league, while in Saskatoon the University of Saskatchewan Huskies were formed in the early 1910s. At Vancouver the University of British Columbia has iced a hockey team since 1915-16.

The early years of all four western schools saw the hockey teams compete in local city leagues as well as provincial senior and intermediate leagues as there was no formal intercollegiate league. However, several of the teams played exhibition games against each other.

The first such game occurred on February 27, 1911 when Alberta visited Saskatoon and defeated Saskatchewan 16-0 as Roy Goodridge scored a Golden Bears team-record eight goals. This record still stands.

In the fall of 1919 intercollegiate athletics in the west took a monumental step forward as Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan met at the Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton to form an athletic conference for the western universities. The Western Intercollegiate Athletic Union was the product of this meeting and in January of 1920 the first hockey game was played. Manitoba won the first WCIAU title as the Bisons won three of their four games to finish two points ahead of second-place Alberta.

In the early 1920s three western schools enjoyed particular success. In 1920-21 the UBC Thunderbirds won the Savage Cup as British Columbia Senior A champions and earned the right to move on to the Allan Cup playoffs. (The Thunderbirds were unable to skate for the Allan Cup as final exams conflicted with the playoff schedule.) The University of Manitoba won the 1923 Memorial Cup and captured the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association junior championship in 1922, 1923 and 1925. Saskatchewan reached the Allan Cup finals in 1923 after having won the Saskatchewan and Western Canadian senior titles. Other Canadian universities to advance in the Memorial Cup playoffs included Quecbec's Loyola College in 1920 and McGill in 1923.

In 1922, Dr. J. Halpenny of the University of Saskatchewan donated a trophy to the WCIAU to be awarded to the annual champion. The Halpenny Trophy was competed for on an annual basis until 1950, with the exception of several seasons during the 1930s and early 1940s, when competition was halted due to the Depression and World War II. In March of 1950 the Halpenny Trophy was retired in the permanent possession of Alberta after the Golden Bears won the trophy for the 17th consecutive season. The Halpenny Trophy was replaced by the W.G. Hardy Trophy in 1950-51.

The Hardy Trophy was named after Dr. W. George Hardy, a professor of Classics at the University of Alberta, who coached the Golden Bears from 1924 to 1928. Hardy was renowned for both his academic and athletic endeavors and served as president of the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association from 1931 ti 1933, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association from 1938 to 1939 and the International Ice Hockey Federation from 1948 to 1951.

The Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union
In 1961 the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union was formed as the governing body for intercollegiate sport in Canada. The CIAU, which would change its name to the present Canadian Interunversity Athletic Union in 1978, began with five regional conferences – the Maritime Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Ottawa-St. Lawrence Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the Ontario-Quebec Athletic Association, Ontario Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Through the years the CIAU has grown and this growth has resulted in several different alignments in the various conferences across the country. In the Maritimes, the AUAA has grown from six teams to as many as 10, and currently has nine teams playing in two divisions. Intercollegiate hockey in Quebec saw the Ontario-Quebec Association thrive for a decade as the conference began ranged in size from four to nine teams. In 1970-71 the OQAA became the Quebec University Athletic Association and eight schools competed for the conference title. In the early 1980s a trend developed that saw several QUAA schools drop their hockey programs due to budget constraints and by 1986-87 the conference was down to only four teams. In 1987 the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi dropped its hockey program, leaving McGill, Conordia and Québec à Trois-Rivières as the only remaining Quebec universities with an active hockey program. The three surviving members of the QUAA then joined the Ontario Universities Athletic Association in time for the 1987-88 season, where they remain today.

In Ontario, collegiate hockey continued to flourish with as many as 16 teams competing for the conference title. The conference has seen several changes to its membership and make-up over the years, but currently has 16 teams competing in four four-team divisions.

College hockey in the western provinces saw the original WCIAU move from its three charter members – Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan – to a two-team league for several years in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1956-57 the conference expanded to four teams with the addition of the Brandon College Caps. Brandon played two seasons in the WCIAU before withdrawing, but the Caps were replaced by the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in 1961-62.

The WCIAU became the Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1962-63 and the conference membership grew to eight teams by 1970-71 as the University of Calgary joined in 1964-65 and was followed by the University of Winnipeg in 1968-69, the University of Victoria in 1969-70 and the return of Brandon to the fold that same season. From 1969-70 to 1971-72, the WCIAU remained an eight-team conference, but in 1972-73 its separated into two new leagues. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Calgary, UBC and Victoria formed the Canada West University Athletic Association while Brandon, Manitoba and Winnipeg began the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

Victoria would drop its hockey program in 1973-74 after suffering through four seasons with an overall record of 3-75-0. The Vikings departure left the CWUAA with four teams for the next 11 season until 1984-85 when the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns joined the association. While the CWUAA remained stable, GPAC was growing as Lakehead University began play in 1972-73 and won the conference's first title that season. GPAC upped its membership to five teams in 1976-77 with the addition of the University of Regina Cougars. Winnipeg and Lakehead shelved their hockey programs in the mid 1980s, leaving GPAC membership at three with only Brandon, Manitoba and Regina icing squads. In 1985-86 the CWUAA and remaining GPAC teams merged to form an eight-team conference under the banner of the CWUAA.

Currently, CIAU hockey has a total of 33 teams in three separate conferences competing for the University Cup national championship.