Tourney cancellation forces changes on fly

What had become a 13-year holiday tradition will not be around this season.

The Conway Arena Holiday Hockey Tournament, which has been played since 2005 is done – at least for this year. Nashua athletic director Lisa Gingras told The Telegraph she made the decision, along with officials from Conway Arena, about two weeks ago. Instead, the district’s two co-op teams, South-Pelham and North-Souhegan, will play in a tournament in Keene. Ironically, Keene won the 13th annual Conway Tourney title last December.

“It was a mutual decision,” Gingras said, referring to the schools and the rink. “There just didn’t seem to be the same interest, with the co-op teams. It’s (the co-ops) not the big reason, but it’s slowly over the last several years been diminishing in terms of excitement, attention. It’s a struggle every year to get teams to come. In talking with the Arena, we just made the decision not to do it.”

Will it ever return?

“I can’t answer that for you,” Gingras said. “I’ll miss it. Any time you can host a tournament like that it’s great. But you need the teams, the enthusiasm, the excitement to make it worthwhile.”

Gingras said there were no other teams committed at the time of the decision. One school, Alvirne (with Milford as a co-op partner) had inquired about it.

“I spoke to Alvirne the other day, and Karen Bonney had been also looking into doing something (looking for a holiday tourney to play in) as well.”

The tournament did have its regulars besides the North and South co-op teams. Routinely Alvirne, Hollis Brookline (except for one season when it didn’t play), and Coventry (R.I.) would take part. The event had a definite local flavor, and last year’s tourney field was one of its largest ever – eight teams. It included North-Souhegan, South-Pelham, Alvirne, Coventry, Merrimack, Pembroke-Campbell, Keene, and the Bedford “B” Team. South-Pelham has won the event twice recently.

The last time was two years ago.