Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 02
The Stanley Cup Journal

At the Allan Cup tournament in Lloydminster, the Mounties were greeted by a massive roar as they carried Lord Stanley's Cup out onto the ice at the Centennial Civic Centre Arena. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
In the realm of all existing hockey leagues, the National Hockey League is certainly the highest profile of all, but it is by no means the only league that provides exceptional, entertaining hockey played at an elite level. Championships take place all around the globe, with most being decided in the spring after a full winter schedule.

Earlier this spring, the Stanley Cup went visiting relatives. As the Stanley Cup is the championship trophy for the NHL, the Allan Cup is the highest award for Canadian Senior hockey while the Memorial Cup is awarded to the Canadian Major Junior champion. All three have been witness to extraordinary hockey through the decades, and watched proudly as young men pushed their abilities to the limit in challenging for their league's highest prize.

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The Allan Cup was donated in 1908 by Sir Montagu Allan, the former president of the Montreal Jockey Club, as a championship trophy for senior hockey. Like the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup was originally a challenge trophy, meaning teams could issue challenges to the reigning champion, hoping to defeat them and earn the status of champion for themselves. But when challenges for the Allan Cup grew so frequent that they became unmanageable, the format was altered in 1914 so that regional champions would compete for this prestigious national trophy.

The first recipients of the Allan Cup were the Ottawa Cliffsides. Beginning in 1920, when hockey was first introduced to the Olympic Games, the reigning Allan Cup champion was chosen to represent Canada. This continued until Father David Bauer introduced a national hockey program that produced a team of selects at the 1964 Olympic Games.

Winning the Senior hockey championship of Canada has always been a prestigious honour, but up until the 1950's, Senior hockey was just one step below the National Hockey League. When the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams in 1967, many players competing at levels including Senior got their first true opportunities to play in the National Hockey League. In 1984, the classification of teams competing for the Allan Cup was changed to Senior AAA.

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The Thunder Bay Bombers rejoice after being presented with the historic Allan Cup as Senior hockey champions. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup was flown into Edmonton on Tuesday, April 19, then was driven two-and-a-half hours from the Alberta capital to Lloydminster on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border for the Allan Cup tournament. The first of the round robin contests began that same day. Before the first contest, the RCMP, dressed in their ceremonial crimson attire, accompanied the Stanley Cup to centre ice to thunderous applause from the fans in attendance. It was truly a Canadian event, as a group of First Nation peoples, clad in traditional attire, followed the Cup with traditional aboriginal dance.

Lloydminster proved to be hockey mad and was a terrific host for the Allan Cup championship. The Stanley Cup was on display along with some amazing hockey artifacts on the second floor of the Centennial Civic Centre Arena overlooking the ice surface. During FanFest, residents waited as long as two-and-a-half hours to see the Stanley Cup.

Corey Schwab, a Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils in 2003, is the assistant coach of the Midwest Islanders, one of the teams participating in the tournament. For inspiration, Corey brought his team over to see the Stanley Cup, hoping for divine intervention. It worked. The Islanders progressed through the round robin, then beat the CanAm Cobras in the quarter-final before they lost to the red hot Sentinelles de Montmagny in the semi-final.

The Stanley Cup traditionally does not remain at championship tournaments for the deciding game, not wishing to take any attention away from the trophy being awarded on that day. Such was the case at the Allan Cup tournament in 2005. The Stanley Cup left Lloydminster after the banquet on Thursday, April 21, leaving Sir Montagu Allan's legacy to shine brightly for the remainder of the championship.

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The Bombers discovered that you never get tired of winning. For the City of Thunder Bay, it was their 10th Allan Cup championship -- more than any other city! (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Thunder Bay Bombers played just four games through the 2004-05 season. Unaffiliated, and comprised of university players and a handful of former pros, the Bombers defeated the Aylmer Blues two games to none to capture the Renwick Cup as Ontario Senior hockey champions, thus earning a trip to the Allan Cup tournament.

In Lloydminster, Thunder Bay lost both games in the round robin, but then hit their stride, defeating host Lloydminster in the quarter-finals, then dumping the Horse Lake Thunder in the semi-final. Horse Lake was prominent through the inclusion of NHL veterans Theoren Fleury and Gino Odjick in their line-up, but even with that marquee value, the Thunder were no match for Thunder Bay.

The final took place on April 24 — Thunder Bay facing Les Sentinelles de Montmagny. The two tangled to a three-all tie after regulation before Derek Levanen tallied the Allan Cup-winning goal at 2:18 of overtime for the victorious Bombers.

The City of Thunder Bay, comprised of the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, is the most successful city in Allan Cup history. The Port Arthur Bearcats won senior hockey's championship in 1925, 1926, 1929 and 1939. The Thunder Bay Twins collected the big prize in 1975, 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1989. Now, they are joined forever by the 2005 Allan Cup champions — the Thunder Bay Bombers!

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The Stanley Cup was also on hand in support of the Memorial Cup tournament, held in London, Ontario, which concluded with the exciting finale on Sunday, May 29.

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The Memorial Cup was created to honour the lives of young men who served in the First World War, donated by the Ontario Hockey Association to be awarded to the junior champions of Canada. It was first presented in 1919, with the University of Toronto Schools defeating the Regina Pats 29-8 in a two-game, total goal series.

The tournament format has changed through the years, and most recently includes a competition between the champions of the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League plus a host team. This year was an anomaly — the London Knights were the host team as well as the OHL champs, so the Ottawa 67s, OHL finalists to the Knights, found a spot in the tournament beside London, the WHL's Kelowna Rockets and the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.

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The Stanley Cup arrived in London on Thursday, May 26 and stayed until Saturday, the 28th. Again, there was no desire to overshadow the Memorial Cup so Lord Stanley's prize left before the final contest. But while it visited London, the Stanley Cup was displayed outside Market Square, beside the John Labatt Centre. A brief rain shower necessitated moving the Cup upstairs with the Hockey Hall of Fame's 'Legends' exhibit, which contained some of the most amazing artifacts culled from hockey's history. A case specific to London included, among other items, Louie DeBrusk's jersey from his days with the Knights and Rob Schremp's (blush) girdle. The NHL's Maurice Richard Trophy (most goals during the regular season), Hart (most valuable player during regular season) and Vezina (best regular season netminder) were also on display for fans. From 8AM until 7PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there was a non-stop line-up to get photographs taken with the gleaming Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup was, as you would imagine, a monstrous hit with London's fervent hockey fans.

On Friday morning, the Stanley Cup was taken to Wolsley Barracks at Area Support Unit London. The military base serves as a video training facility. The gentlemen accompanying the Cup got the rare opportunity to shoot firearms for the first time, making certain the Stanley Cup was tucked far away (it'd be tough to explain to the Tampa Bay Lightning why their engraving now read 'Tamp Light!)

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The London Knights and Rimouski Oceanic emerged as finalists for the 2005 Memorial Cup championship. The drama was sensational — both teams had enjoyed extended streaks without a loss during the season. London went 32 games from the start of the 2004-05 season without a loss, finishing with a regular season record of 59 wins, 7 losses and 2 ties. Rimouski's unbeaten streak extended to 35 games, but isn't recognized as a record as it included both regular season and playoff games. At the conclusion of the QMJHL regular season, the Oceanic had won 45, lost 17, tied 5 and suffered 3 overtime losses.

In front of a wildly exuberant hometown crowd on Sunday, May 29, the London Knights capped an extraordinary season with a 4-0 blanking of Rimouski. The victory earned the Knights the Memorial Cup as Canada's premier junior squad; the first championship in the franchise's 40-year history. It is almost incomprehensible that in 1995-96, the Knights finished the season with a deplorable record of just three wins, three ties and sixty losses.

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Join us on Tuesday when the Stanley Cup Journal takes you to Tampa for the first anniversary party of the Lightning's Stanley Cup victory.

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Content.
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