In 1896, the teams that formerly made up the main circuit for the Montreal Winter Carnival played a season-long stand-alone hockey league that was a successor to the popular winter festival. In fact, the MWC Hockey Tournament was cancelled as the teams decided to focus on their own league play. The Montreal Hockey Club, Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Victorias, Quebec Hockey Club, and the Ottawa Hockey Club participated in a balanced, round-robin format which was going to be an ongoing practice.
The tenth season played in 1896 (played from January 3 to March 7) saw The Montreal Victorias win the Championship. 1896 was the fourth year that the Dominion Challenge Cup was awarded. The Montreal Victorias lost the Cup to the Winnipeg Victorias. The Victorias defended the 1895 title because of their previous year’s first place finish. Despite finishing first in the AHAC in 1896 they challenged their Winnipeg counterparts and had to wait until the end of the year to reclaim the cup.
February 14, 1896 – Winnipeg Victorias (MHA) 2–0 over Montreal Victorias (AHAC) played in Montreal
December 30, 1896 – Montreal Victorias (AHAC) 6–5 over Winnipeg Victorias (MHA) played in Winnipeg
|Championships to 1896 Season for Amateur Hockey Association of Canada|
|Team||# of Championships||Premier Championship Points|
|Montreal Hockey Club||9 (1885-86, 88-94)||30
|Montreal Victorias||3 (1884, 95-96)||12 (+4)|
|Montreal Crystals||1 (1887)||4|
|McGill University||1 (1883)||2|
The AHAC was the first ever organized Ice Hockey league formed by four Montreal-based teams plus Ottawa. These five teams all played in the MWC Tournament so that tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes. From this humble beginning ice hockey and its leagues established their beginning.