The University Cup is awarded annually to the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) hockey champions. The trophy was presented by Queen's University and the Royal Military College of Canada - who were participants in the first organized intercollegiate hockey game played in Canada at Kingston, Ont, in 1885 - in recognition of the contribution made to the game of hockey by outstanding university players.
Teams from the CIAU's 3 regional conferences - Canada West, Ontario and Atlantic - compete for the trophy. Kingston was the site of the inaugural CIAU hockey championship in 1963 as Queen's and RMC co-hosted the national tournament. Over the course of its first 25 years, the format of the University Cup playoffs has varied. Originally a 4-team tournament, the playoffs have included 5- and 6-team tournaments, featuring conference champions, host and wild card teams, and progressive best-of-3 regional series between conference champions.
As of 1999, 13 teams had laid claim to the University Cup in 37 years, with the Toronto Varsity Blues holding a record 10 titles. The McMaster University Marlins, in their only tournament appearance, won the inaugural championship. Other teams to win the University Cup include the Alberta Golden Bears (9), Moncton Aigles Bleus (4), York Yeomen (3), Acadia Axemen (2) and Trois-Rivières Patriotes (2), and the Guelph Gryphons, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Manitoba Bisons, New Brunswick Varsity Reds, Saskatchewan Huskies and Waterloo Warriors with one each.