A prestigious Cape Breton high school hockey tournament may look different in February.
The Cape Breton Post has learned Riverview High School is planning to make major changes to its Red Cup Showcase format, which will include playing the tournament games after school during the weekday.
The Post has also learned from four different sources the tournament will only feature the four local teams, including the host Riverview Redmen, Sydney Academy Wildcats, Glace Bay Panthers and Memorial Marauders.
Sources have said the reason for the change is due to the possibility of underage drinking among students during Redmen evening games, which has been speculated in the past.
Paul MacDonald, facility manager for the Cape Breton County Recreation Centre, acknowledged there have been reports of underage drinking during the tournament.
"I know the school has had concerns for the last number of years and they've tried to change some things with added security," said MacDonald. "We've done some different things from preventing students from bringing in product from outside the arena, so I think we've all tried to be proactive - it's more from the school perspective then our perspective.
"They (the school) are the ones who are renting the facility to host the tournament and then they work with us to ensure that we have a safe event."
MacDonald said as far as CBRM is concerned, they're asked to deal with the event.
"We've had on occasion people in the building that were drinking and they were underage and we've tried to deal with it through the school and through the local police," he said, noting the Coxheath venue is not licensed to sell alcohol and no drinking is to take place at the facility.
No official announcement on the tournament changes have been made so far by Riverview High School.
The Post contacted the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education on Nov. 29 to request an interview with Riverview principal Joe Chisholm about the altered schedule and format. The centre for education denied the request.
“We are not prepared to make a statement at this time,” said Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education spokeswoman Michelle MacLeod last Sunday.
RED CUP SHOWCASE
- The Red Cup is a prestigious high school hockey tournament hosted each year by Riverview High School
- The tournament is held each year in February at the Cape Breton County Recreation Centre in Coxheath
- For the most part, the tournament features teams from across the province including all four local representatives
- This year’s tournament will mark the 42nd year for the event
- The Cape Breton Post has learned possible changes to the tournament format could happen this year that would see the tournament be played after school during the week, eliminating the traditional weekend games.
The Red Cup Showcase is known as one of the top high school hockey tournaments in Atlantic Canada, taking place at the Cape Breton County Recreation Centre.
For the past 41 years, the Red Cup has been well supported by the Cape Breton community and is considered to be the school’s biggest sporting event of the year.
Along with entertaining hockey, the tournament also provides Riverview students with an opportunity to show their school spirit by supporting the Redmen. In previous years, students have worn red and white T-shirts with the school’s logo on them, while sitting behind the team's bench during the games, cheering the club on.
Traditionally, the tournament takes place in early February each year. The event usually begins on a Thursday and runs until Sunday. However, the format change may see the weekend portion of the tournament eliminated.
Last year’s tournament featured eight teams including the four local clubs as well as the Avon View Avalanche of Windsor, Lockview Dragons of Fall River, Auburn Drive Eagles of Cole Harbour, and Horton Griffins of Wolfville.
The Cape Breton Post has learned the 2020 edition of the Red Cup Showcase was originally scheduled for Feb. 6-9. However, no official dates have been announced by the school as of press time.
The Red Cup Showcase is one of four local high school tournaments held each year.
Last month, Memorial High School hosted the Mae Kibyuk Memorial Green and Gold Hockey Tournament at the Emera Centre Northside in North Sydney.
Meanwhile, Glace Bay High School’s Panther Classic is taking place this weekend at the Canada Games Complex on the Cape Breton University campus. Sydney Academy will host the Blue and White Challenge, Jan. 9-12, at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre. No changes have been made to those tournaments, at least for this season.
Riverview has been in the spotlight in recent months after the school announced in June it would be re-branding its sports teams, which would include dropping the name “Redmen” from its hockey program.
The announcement came two months after McGill University in Montreal removed the name “Redmen” from its men’s varsity sports teams after students argued the term was a racial slur. For the time being, the Redmen name remains attached to Riverview’s hockey program, but the school hopes to have a new name for all of its sports team in place by next school year.
On the ice, Riverview sits first overall in the four-team Cape Breton High School Hockey League with a 9-0-0-0 regular season record. The Redmen are currently taking part in the Panther Classic.
The Cape Breton Post contacted the Cape Breton Regional Police and Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education on Thursday regarding underage drinking reports during previous Red Cup Showcase tournaments at the Coxheath venue. Both could not be reached for comment at press time.