Queen’s Cup hits the century mark

By Paul Mayne
March 10, 2011

After nearly a century of affectionate abuse, the original Queen's Cup trophy - its decorative silver bowl reaching a desperate state of disrepair with numerous dents and cracks – was retired in 2000 and sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Despite its recent cosmetic improvements, raising the symbol of university men's hockey supremacy in the Ontario University Association (OUA) still sounds like a plan to The University of Western Ontario Mustangs, who’ll face-off against the defending champion McGill Redmen this Saturday (3:30 p.m.) at Thompson Arena.

While a huge game for the Clarke Singer-led Mustangs – in search of their fourth OUA championship - the day holds a little more significance due to the fact it will be the 100th playing of the Queen’s Cup.

“I think it makes it even more special,” says the head coach. “We’re not going to play any harder or any differently because it’s the 100th, but it is still an important and significant game.”

The cup, originating at Queen's University in Kingston has a history dating back more than 100 years. It was first awarded in 1903, having been handed out every year since, except during the two World Wars.

It was McGill, Queen's and Toronto that established the Canadian Intercollegiate Hockey Union (CIHU), with Queen's donating a silver cup for the championship. The Queen's Cup aspired to be emblematic of Canadian university hockey championship at the time, though no teams from outside of Ontario and Quebec ever competed for the trophy other than the original three. 

Throughout the 1950s, increasing agitation for membership from newer and smaller universities, into what was referred to for decades as the ‘senior ranks,’ was met with resistance by league officials and led to the creation of rival university hockey leagues in Ontario.

By the early 1960s, the exclusivity of the CIHU was finally broken, and Ontario Agricultural College (Guelph), McMaster, Waterloo and, of course, Western were granted membership into the newly formed east division.

Since then, Western has held the Queen’s Cup high on three occasions - 1995, 2005 and 2009 – the last two under the leadership of Singer.

He feels this noteworthy anniversary will add to Saturday’s game not only in terms if fan attraction, with a slate of special events planned to celebrate the historic 100th playing of the Queen's Cup, but for his players as well.

“The Queen’s Cup is one of the oldest trophies in the world, so we’ll discuss that with the players and make them realize how special this trophy is,” says Singer, whose Mustangs took the top spot in the OUA West Division at 20-3-5. “It’s always exciting to be playing for a Queen’s Cup championship because you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity.”

Singer says his No. 5-ranked Mustangs will have they’re hands full with the No. 2-ranked Redmen, winners of 15 Queen’s Cups. Led offensively by Kevin Baker, Kyle Lamb and rookie Josh McQuade, the Mustangs are also counting on the hot goaltending of Anthony Grieco.

In the Mustangs 6-1 record during the playoffs, Grieco has allowed just 10 goals and added a shutout.

“Anthony has played very well for us, but our team as well has been playing great in front of him,” Singer says. “Coming into Saturday goaltending is a huge factor, so we need Anthony to be at his best. We’re facing one of the best lines in the country on Saturday and that’s going to be a big focus for us and making sure we do the best we can to shut those guys down.”

The Mustangs have already qualified for the Nationals at the University of New Brunswick at the end of the month, but Singer says first things first.

“You have to balance the excitement and anticipation with the preparation,” Singer says. “The guys are looking forward to it and I think the biggest thing is make sure our focus is on Saturday and not the university cup. We want to make sure we put them in the right frame of mind, so they can play their best come Saturday.”

For tickets to Saturday afternoon’s game, visit mustangs.ca.


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