History – Overview
History of the Memorial Cup
The 2019 season marks the 101st anniversary of the Memorial Cup. The Memorial Cup, one of the most prestigious and coveted trophies in North American sport, has a rich tradition that has shaped the way junior hockey is played in North America. The trophy was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in March, 1919, in remembrance of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in The First World War. In 2010 the Memorial Cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian Military Personnel.
Initially the Cup was awarded to the national junior hockey champions of Canada. Later on it came to signify Junior “A” hockey supremacy when in 1934, junior hockey in Canada was divided into “A” and “B” classes. In 1971, when junior “A” hockey was divided into major junior and Tier 11 junior A, the Memorial Cup was awarded to the higher category and was given to the major junior hockey champions of Canada. In 1972, a round-robin tournament format replaced the old playdown system to determine the champions. Since then, the champions of the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League, have met each spring in a round-robin series with the two top teams playing off in a sudden-death game to determine the Cup champions.
The Memorial Cup became an international trophy in 1983 as the tournament was held outside Canada for the first time, when the Portland Memorial Coliseum was the host arena. The hometown Winter Hawks took home the title that year to become the first non-Canadian based team to win the Memorial Cup. Portland again hosted the tournament in 1986 and Seattle played host in 1992. In 1991, the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League became the second U.S. based team to claim the title. The Chiefs won the title again in 2008 in Kitchener, ON.
In the last 47 tournaments since the round-robin format was established, Western Hockey League teams have won the title 19 times, Ontario Hockey League teams have claimed 17 titles and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams have won the title 11 times.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan won the championship last year at the event in Regina, SK. The Memorial Cup will be held in Halifax, NS this year when the 101st annual tournament is played from May 17-26. The 2020 Memorial Cup will mark the 102nd anniversary of the event and be held in Kelowna, BC in May 2020.