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—then 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 a new 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 with them, as Michigan Tech is the trustee of the MacNaughton Cup.

MacNaughton Cup Champions

Program Total First Last
Denver 13 1958 2010
Minnesota 13 1953 2013
North Dakota 12 1958 2011
Colorado College 9 1952 2005
Michigan Tech 8 1962 2016
Wisconsin 3 1977 2000
Bowling Green 3 1982 1984
Michigan 2 1953 1956
Minnesota State 2 2015 2016
Minnesota-Duluth 2 1985 1993
St. Cloud State 1 2013 2013
Northern Michigan 1 1991 1991
Ferris State 1 2014 2014
Bemidji State 1 2017 2017

Due to the conference realignment which happened before the 2013-2014 season, only five programs that have won the MacNaughton Cup are still competing for it. That transition has turned a new page in history for this heavily coveted trophy. The Huskies finished one point behind Minnesota State in 2014-15, the closest they'd come to winning the Cup since the 1980-81 season when Michigan Tech finished 6 points behind Minnesota.

In March 2016, the MacNaughton Cup finally returned to Houghton and Michigan Tech was again the home of the trophy it was entrusted with so many years ago. It took 40 years, but Michigan Tech finished the 2015-16 season with 39 points and a conference record of 18-7-3, good enough to earn the #1 seed in the conference tournament as Co-Champions with Minnesota State.