In 1886, the first ever hockey tournament that debuted at the 1883 Montreal Winter Carnival had to be cancelled. A smallpox epidemic was affecting Montreal particularly hard. An invitation to participate in a tournament played out of Montreal allowed some of the teams to fashion some kind of championship beside the Carnival Cup.
1886 saw no Carnival Cup winner, but did see The Montreal Hockey Club win a smaller tournament held in Burlington, Vermont.
|Championships to 1886 Burlington Winter Carnival Tournament|
|Team||# of Premier Championships||Premier Championship Points|
|Montreal Hockey Club||2 (1885-86)||5 (+1)
|Montreal Victorias||1 (1884)||4|
|McGill University||1 (1883)||2|
The MWC Tournament had to be cancelled but three of the four teams from 1885 were invited to participate in a first-ever international tournament in Burlington, Vermont. The Montreal Hockey Club and Montreal Crystals accepted while Ottawa Hockey Club could not attend. The Burlington Winter Carnival Tournament was played on February 26 on Lake Champlain. The two Canadian teams and an American team made up of local hospitality staff (Van Ness House) who had never played hockey held a round-robin tournament that resulted in the Montreal Hockey Club winning.
Starting in 1883 with only three teams playing three games over two days, the humble beginnings of the MWC Hockey Tournament lead to the creation of the first persistent league. Four Montreal-based teams plus one team from Ottawa played in the MWC and also formed the AHAC in 1887. It is because of this direct linkage the MWC Hockey Tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes.