The 1981 Memorial Cup Final was held in Windsor, Ontario and the defending Memorial Cup Champion Cornwall Royals would return to try and win a third national title.
Following the 1980 tournament and the concern that the format allowed for a team that had won its first three games to determine its opponent in the final by performing in a certain way in its fourth game, new rules were introduced to prevent such a situation. If a team clinched a spot in the final by the fourth game of the double round robin tournament, the other two teams would play a two game total goal series to determine who would move on. If a team clinched a spot in the final by the fifth game of the tournament then the two other teams would play a sudden semi-final game.
The Royals defeated the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in five games to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title and they had nine players, including Dale Hawerchuk and Marc Crawford, in their line up who would be out to win their second Memorial Cup.
The representatives of the Western Hockey League were the Victoria Cougars who led by Grant Fuhr would be appearing in a Memorial Cup final for the first time ever. The Cougars won the WHL`s President`s Cup by defeating the Calgary Wranglers in seven games.
The Kitchener Rangers were the Ontario Hockey League`s representatives as they defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds nine points to three in the eight point final to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup. The Rangers were coached by Orval Tessier who was a member of the Barrie Flyers` 1953 Memorial Cup team and coached the Cornwall Royals to a national title in 1972. This would be the Rangers` first trip to a Memorial Cup and it was the first time since 1923 that the City of Kitchener would be represented in the Memorial Cup final. In 1923 the Kitchener Greenshirts lost to the University of Manitoba Bisons 14-6 in a two game total goal series.
Cornwall and Kitchener advanced out of the double round robin with the Royals finishing with a record of three wins and one loss while Kitchener, after losing its first two games, rebounded with a pair of wins to end with a 2-2 record. Victoria lost three times but did defeat Kitchener in its first game of the tournament.
In the final, future National Hockey League player Scott Arniel would score a pair of goals as Cornwall posted a 5-2 win to capture their third Memorial Cup title. In winning the 1981 Memorial Cup the Royals became just the fifth team in the history of the Cup to win back to back titles. The Royals joined the Oshawa Generals (1939/1940), the Toronto Marlboros (1955/1956), the Montreal Junior Canadiens (1969/1970) and the New Westminster Bruins (1977/1978) as the only teams to win two Memorial Cups in a row.
George Parsons Trophy ( Sportsmanship) - Brian Bellows - Kitchener
Tournament All -Star Team
Goal Corrado Micalef, Cornwall
Defence Fred Arthur, Cornwall
Defence Joe McDonnell, Kitchener
Centre Dale Hawerchuk, Cornwall
Left Wing Marc Crawford, Cornwall
Right Wing Brian Bellows, Kitchener