Carr-Harris Cup 2023 Celebrates Hockey's Oldest Rivalry

The latest installment of the Carr-Harris Cup - the world's oldest hockey rivalry between Queen's University and the Royal Military College - was played on February. 2nd, 2023 and the local tradition did not disappoint as it turned out to be an overtime thriller.

There was 3,800 fans in attendance at the Leon's Centre for the annual classic that saw Queen's prevail 2-1 over the Paladins on an overtime winning goal from Alex Robert early into the extra frame.  As the score would indicate, it was a close checking affair but largely in part of RMC goalie Joey May who turned aside 45 of 47 shots on the night and many of those were of the highlight reel variety.  Dalton Duart opening the scoring in the game for Queen's in the first and Noah Rowe tied the score for RMC just before the second period ended.  That paved the way for the overtime finish.    

Prior to the opening faceoff there were some very important awards that were handed out.  The Original Hall of Fame was very excited to present the inaugural Bill Fitsell Memorial Awards.  The awards were presented to the top graduating player on each team as chosen by their head coach. The criteria for the choices included  leadership both on and off the ice, academic achievement, sportmanship and community involvement.

Bill Fitsell was one of the great historians and ambassadors that Kingston hockey has ever known.  Fitsell passed away in December 2020 and it was imperative that some fitting and perpetual honour be created in his name.  Bill always had a soft spot in his heart for graduating players whenever he attended a Carr-Harris game.  He would seek out the graduating players on both sides following the game and congratulate them on completing their university hockey careers.  With that in mind, it was only fitting that we at the Hall of Fame create awards that honoured Bill's name and paid tribute to the top graduating player each year from each school.  Fitsell served in every capacity on the Hall of Fame board including a period as President and he was one of the integral figures in 1986 that created the Carr-Harris game and we are sure that Bill would be proud of what a great local tradiotion this event has evolved into.

There was another presentation that was made prior to the game to honour Queen's coach Brett Gibson. The Original Hockey Hall of Fame wanted to recognize Gibson with a framed picture to highlight his milestones of 400 games coached and 200 wins as the Queen's men's head coach   Both of those marks are very significant in CIS history and they clearly illustrate the commitment that Coach Gibson has made to Queen's hockey and in turn it has developed into one of the most respected program's in the country.            

Please read on and find out the background behind the Carr-Harris game and how and why it came to be. 

It was a little different on March 10, 1886 - the day the rivalry started. The two teams waged battle on Kingston's harbour ice, playing with a square puck carved from a lacrosse ball. Few of the spectators on hand likely had ever heard of hockey or understood its rules. In that historic game, the contest was scoreless until Lennox Irving of Queen's finally put one past the goalie to give Queen's a 1-0 victory. 

In 1986, the 100th anniversary of the rivalry, four prominent Kingston hockey aficionados decided that the historic date should be celebrated. Hockey historian Bill Fitsell got together with Bill Hamilton, Stuart Crawford and Ed Grenda and came up with the idea of a challenge cup. With the support of the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, they created a trophy named in honour of the Carr-Harris family. Designed by Kingston artist Joan Belch, it features a statue of Lennox Irving and is called "The Lennie".

Prof. Robert Harris, the first professor of civil engineering and architecture at RMC in 1879 and later first professor of general engineering at Queen's, was the family patriarch. He adopted the name Carr-Harris, in honour of his mother Sarah Carr.

Carr-Harris sent eight sons and two nephews to RMC and many family members to Queen's as well. The Carr-Harris name became prominent in railway construction projects, military activities and sporting action around the world, including Kingston, London, Washington and Hong Kong.

Descendants played, coached and managed for teams in the Stanley Cup, Allan Cup and the Olympics. Marguerite Carr-Harris captained one of the first women's hockey teams at Queen's.

In addition to the Carr-Harris Trophy, the top player from each team is awarded the Mary Carr-Harris Most Valuable Player Award. This award is in memory of Mary Carr-Harris, the matriarch of the Carr-Harris family, who up until her passing in 2006 annually presented the cup to each year's winning team. 

Queen's leads the series 22-11-2.