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Pre-NHL Stanley Cup Challenge List

Eric Zweig
Posted November 17, 2015

In the days before the NHL had a grip on the Stanley Cup, the cherished mug was a challenge trophy to be competed for by amateurs originally, and eventually pro teams as well.

In what is likely one of the most in-depth analysis of cup challenges, author and historian Eric Zweig put together the following list of challenges for the cup leading up to 1913.

Team names in bold indicate that the challenge game was played. Team names highlighted in green indicated successfully winning the challenge from the previous holder.

 DateTeamCredentialsDecisionReasons/Results
March, 1894 Osgoode Hall OHA champions accepted Series never played because of length/lateness of AHA tiebreaking playoffs.
Feb. 28 1895 Queens University OHA champions accepted Because of 1894 problem and possibility of tie again in 1895, series ordered with Montreal AAA.
Nov./Dec. 1895 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions accepted Challenge accepted in January of 1896. Winnipeg defeated Montreal Vics on Feb. 14, 1896.
Nov. 11 1896 Montreal Victorias AHA champions accepted Series played prior to 1897 season. Defeated Winnipeg Victorias on Dec. 30, 1896.
Mar. 12, 1897 Ottawa Capitals CCHA champions accepted Series played prior to 1898 season. Best-of-three series halted after one-sided Montreal Vics win.
November, 1897 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions N/A Likely never issued a formal challenge for 1898.
January, 1899 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions accepted Montreal Vics won best-of-three series 2-0 in February. (Ended in controversy with referee.)
Feb. 24, 1899 Queens University OHA champions accepted Despite reports they would not challenge, Queens played Montreal Shamrocks on Mar. 14 and lost.
January, 1900 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-1 to Montreal Shamrocks in February.
February, 1900 Halifax Crescents Maritime champions accepted Lost two-game, total-goals series 21-2 to Montreal Shamrocks.
March, 1900 Toronto Wellingtons OHA champions N/A OHA considered challenge on champions behalf, but no formal request ever made.
December, 1900 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions accepted Defeated Montreal Shamrocks 2-0 in best-of-three series in January 1901.
Feb./Mar. 1901 Ottawa Hockey Club CAHL champions N/A Considered challenge, but decided against it. (See four, six lines below.)
Feb./Mar. 1901 Berlin Hockey Club Western OHA champs N/A Hoped to play Winnipeg, Ottawa or OHA champ'n Toronto Wellingtons, but made no formal Stanley Cup challenge.
Feb./Mar. 1901 Toronto Wellingtons OHA champions N/A Winnipeg invited winner of OHA championship to challenge, but didn't happen yet. (See three lines below.)
June 7, 1901 Dawson Civil Service Yukon champions accepted Trustees accepted challenge and asked team to name dates. Received no follow up, so no challenge took place.
Oct. 15, 1901 Ottawa Hockey Club CAHL champions N/A Again considered challenge, but did not follow up. (See four lines above, two lines below.)
Dec. 11, 1901 Toronto Wellingtons OHA champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-0 to Winnipeg Victorias in January 1902. (See three lines above.)
February, 1902 Ottawa Hockey Club CAHL champions (1901) deferred Trustees willing to accept challenge. Winnipeg preferred to wait for challenge from 1902 champs.
Mar. 1, 1902 Montreal AAA CAHL champions (1902) accepted Defeated Winnipeg Vics 2-1 in best-of-three series in March.
Nov. 10, 1902 Winnipeg Victorias Manitoba champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-1 to Montreal AAA in Jan./Feb. 1903.
Jan. 28, 1903 Toronto Wellingtons OHA champions accepted Challenge accepted by trustees, but Wellingtons could not play due to late scheduling of CAHL playoff.
Feb. 20, 1903 Rat Portage Thistles Manitoba champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-0 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in March.
Summer 1903 Winnipeg Rowing Club Western Canada champ accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-1 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in Dec./Jan. 1904.
Feb. 4, 1904   Toronto Marlboros OHA champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-0 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in February.
Feb. 10, 1904 Montreal Wanderers FAHL champions accepted Series abandoned after one tie game. Ottawa still champions.
Feb. 10, 1904 Brandon Hockey Club Manitoba champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-0 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in March.
Feb. 16, 1904 Quebec Hockey Club CAHL Champions N/A CAHL stated Cup should go to their champion (following Ottawa’s withdraw). Trustees disagreed. No challenge entered.
Feb. 22, 1904 Berlin Hockey Club Western OHA champs rejected Lateness of season. Too many challenges ahead of them. (Western OHA considered minor league.)
Feb. 24, 1904 Queens University Intercollegiate champs accepted Never played. Dates arranged for second week in March conflicted with medical exams. (Possible rejected.)
Mar. 4, 1904 Amherst Ramblers Maritime champions rejected Lateness of season. Too many challenges head of them. (Questionable calibre of league.)
Sept. 9, 1904 Dawson City Yukon   champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-0 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in January 1905.
Feb. 6, 1905 Rat Portage Thistles Manitoba champions accepted Lost best-of-three series 2-1 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in March 1905.
February, 1905 Amherst Ramblers Maritime champions accepted Not played due to lateness of season. (Maritime playoffs not over until mid March.) Never rescheduled for 1906.
Feb. 18, 1905 McGill University Intercollegiate champs N/A Marty Walsh of Queen's suggest McGill should challenge.   No challenge was issued.
Feb. 25, 1905 Smith's Falls OHA contenders N/A Smith's Falls won disputed OHA final vs. Marlboros and challenged for Cup. OHA final then replayed, Marlies won.
March, 1905 Montreal Victorias CAHL champions accepted Not played due to lateness of season. Put off to 1906. Never played. (No need after formation of ECAHA.)
Mar. 9, 1905 Toronto Marlboros OHA champions deferred Lateness of season. Challenge put over until 1906. Ottawa declined to play Cup games prior to start of new season.
Feb. 12, 1906 Queens University Intercollegiate champs accepted Lost two-game, total-goals series 28-14 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in February.
February, 1906 Smith's Falls FAHL champions accepted Lost two-game, total-goals series 14-7 to Ottawa Hockey Club (Silver Seven) in March.
Mar. 14, 1906 Kenora Thistles Manitoba champions accepted Delayed due to lateness of season. Defeated Wanderers 2-0 in best-of-three series in January 1907.
March, 1906 New Glasgow Cubs Maritime champions accepted Delayed due to lateness of season. Lost best-of-three series to Wanderers in December 1906.
Feb. 13, 1907 Montreal Montagnards FAHL contenders N/A Announced plans to challenge if FAHL champs, but resigned from league (while in first place) in dispute.
February, 1907 Pittsburgh Pros IPHL contenders N/A Pittsburgh wanted challenge if champs. Trustees say American teams unacceptable. Canadian Soo OK. (Houghton won.)
Mar. 4, 1907 Montreal Wanderers ECAHA champions accepted Defeated Kenora Thistles 12-8 in two-game, total-goals series in March.
Mar. 4, 1907 Winnipeg HC (Winnipegs) Western Canada champ N/A Did not press for challenge after Wanderers defeated Thistles. (See three lines below.)
Mar. 13, 1907 Renfrew Creamery Kings Ottawa Valley champs accepted Ordered to playoff against Ottawa Vics in December 1907 to determine Cup challenger. Defeated.
Offseason 1907 Ottawa Victorias FAHL champions accepted Defeated Renfrew to determine challenger. Lost total-goal series 22-4 to Wanderers in January 1908.
Nov. 15, 1907 Winnipeg HC (Winnipegs) Western Canada champ rejected (?) Announced plans to go east if challenge accepted. Never went east. (Challenge rejected?) (See three lines above.)
Feb./Mar. 1908 Winnipeg Maple Leafs Manitoba pro champs accepted Lost two-game, total-goals series 20-8 to Montreal Wanderers in March.
Feb. 28, 1908 Toronto Professionals OPHL champions accepted Lost one-game challenge to Montreal Wanderers on March 14.
Mar. 10, 1908 Renfrew Creamery Kings Ottawa Valley champs rejected First put over to next year, then rejected on September 10, 1908. League of insufficient calibre.
Mar. 21, 1908 Edmonton Hockey Club Interprovincial champs deferred Put over to next year. Lost two-game, total goal series to Montreal Wanderers 13-10 in December 1908.
Sept./Oct. 1908 Nelson Hockey Club B.C. champions N/A May never have issued a formal challenge. Indication from trustees they would not accept.
January, 1909 Renfrew Federals FHL champions rejected Rejected for possible roster violations. To be re-considered for early 1909-10 dates. Rejected again on Nov. 24, 1909.
February, 1909 Galt Professionals OPHL champions accepted Delayed for 1909 due to ineligible players. Accepted again on Nov. 24, 1909. Lost to Ottawa in January 1910.
Feb. 15, 1909 Cobalt Silver Kings Temiskaming champs rejected Rejected due to ineligible players. To be re-considered for early 1909-10 dates. Rejected again on Nov. 24, 1909.
February, 1909 Winnipeg Shamrocks Manitoba pro champs accepted Delayed for 1909 by own choice. Accepted again on Nov. 24, 1909. Team disbanded in January. Never played for Cup.
October, 1909 Edmonton Hockey Club Alberta/West champs accepted Originally rejected for early 1909 in favor of Galt, Winnipeg, but later accepted. Lost to Ottawa in January 1910.
Oct./Nov. 1909 Nelson Hockey Club B.C. champions N/A May never have issued a formal challenge. Dates indicated by trustees unfavorable to Nelson.
Feb. 24, 1910 Berlin Dutchmen OPHL champions accepted Lost one-game challenge to Montreal Wanderers on March 12.
Mar. 12, 1910 Moosomin Saskatchewan contender N/A Declared intention to challenge if league champions, but final with Saskatoon halted by warm weather with no winner.
Feb. 11, 1911 Prince Albert Mintos Saskatchewan champs accepted Ordered to playoff against Port Arthur in March. Lost two-game, total-goals series 12-8. Eliminated from Cup play.
February, 1911 Port Arthur NOHL champions accepted Ordered to face PA in March. Won two-game, total goals series 12-8. Lost one-game Cup challenge to Ottawa.
Feb. 21, 1911 Galt Professionals OPHL champions accepted Ordered to face Port Hope in March. Won two-game, total goals series 12-8. Lost one-game Cup challenge to Ottawa.
February, 1911 Phoenix Hockey Club B.C. champions deferred Put over to next year. Never played.
February, 1911 Moncton Victorias Maritime pro champs deferred Put over to next year. (May not have issued a formal challenge at this time.)
Feb. /Mar. 1911 Port Hope EOPHL champions accepted Ordered to face Galt in March. Lost two-game, total-goals series 12-8. Eliminated from Cup play.
February, 1912 Port Arthur NOHL champions accepted Ordered to face Saskatoon. Won two-game, total-goals playoff 12-6, but chose not to face NHA champion for Cup.
Feb. 13, 1912 Saskatoon Saskatchewan champs accepted Ordered to playoff against Port Arthur in March. Lost two-game, total-goals series 12-6. Eliminated from Cup play.
Feb. 22, 1912 New Westminster Royals PCHA champions deferred PCHA season to end too late for champion to play in East. Challenge put over to December, but not acted upon.
Feb. 28, 1912 Moncton Victorias Maritime pro champs accepted Lost Stanley Cup series to Quebec Bulldogs in March.
February, 1913 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA champions N/A Would not play in Quebec (rink too small to defray costs). Invited Quebec to Victoria. NOT intended as a Cup challenge.
Feb./Mar. 1913 Sydney Millionaires Maritime pro champs accepted Lost Stanley Cup series to Quebec Bulldogs in March.

Note: In many cases, challenges were issued by league presidents before a league champion had been determined. 

League Abbreviations
OHA = Ontario Hockey Assocation.
AHA = Amateur Hockey Association of Canada.
CAHL = Canadian Amateur Hockey League.
CCHA = Central Canadian Hockey Association.
FAHL = Federal Amateur Hockey League.
IPHL = International Professional Hockey League.
ECAHA = Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Assocation.
OPHL = Ontario Professional Hockey League.
FHL = Federal Hockey League.
NOHL = New (Northern) Ontario Hockey League.
EOPHL = Eastern Ontario Professional Hockey League.
PCHA = Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

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