In 1913, James MacNaughton, then Superintendent of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, was an avid supporter of amateur ice hockey; he funded the purchase of a cup trophy “price didn’t matter” by the American Hockey Association to present to the Association’s Championship team at the end of the season. The MacNaughton Cup as it is called, was made of pure silver, stands nearly three feet high (31″) and weighs almost 40 pounds. It’s purchase price was $2,000 (over $45,800 in 2011 dollars).
The Cup was first won by the Cleveland Ohio Athletic Club, and remained with the American Hockey Association from 1914 until 1932. Semi-pro and intermediate hockey clubs in the Copper Country fought for the cup from 1933 to 1950. In 1951, MacNaughton’s daughter and son in law, Mr. & Mrs. Endicott R. Lovell, arranged that the Cup be donated to the newly formed Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) by the Calumet and Hecla Company. The WIHL, composed of Michigan Tech, Colorado College, Denver, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and North Dakota, awarded the trophy to its regular season champion until the WIHL was disbanded in March, 1958. After no league play the following season, the seven teams resumed formal competition in the 1959-60 season under the a name, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and awarded the Cup to the regular season champion from 1960 to 1982. (In 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 the Cup went to the WCHA’s playoff champion.) When Michigan Tech left the WCHA for the 1981-82 season and joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, they took the MacNaughton Cup with them and presented it to the CCHA’s regular season winner. When Michigan Tech returned to the WCHA in the 1984-85 season, the Cup returned to WCHA also, as Michigan Tech is the trustee of the MacNaughton Cup.
Eleven college programs have won this historic trophy since it was originally donated to the WIHL back in 1951, including first time winner, St. Cloud State which earned a share of the trophy in their final season in the WCHA:
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Due conference realignment scheduled to happen before the 2013-2014 season, only 3 programs that have won the MacNaughton Cup will be a part of the new look WCHA. It will turn a new page in history for this heavily coveted trophy. Hopefully, soon, Houghton and Michigan Tech will again be the home of the trophy it is entrusted with so many years ago.
For more information on the history of the MacNaughton Cup and the source of much of this information, check out Copper Country Hockey History.