Blast from the Past – Kevin ConwayPosted: 19/03/2012
I enjoy watching the Bison, it’s a lot of fun and since I started watching British ice hockey in late 2005 I’ve watched some of the great and good of our sport be it in Bison colours or others grace the ice. The obvious one I think of is Tony Redmond, a person who will be a banner on the wall of the Basingstoke Arena when he finally decides it’s time to hang up his skates.
If you look at the 2 names we have up there, one is Don Yewchin whose jersey was retired before the infamous 12-0 thumping of the Bees in the Bison’s first EPL season. The other is a literal legend in British ice hockey; that man is #10 Kevin Conway.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native is well known across British hockey and in 2005 was inducted into the British hockey hall of fame. In the 20 years from1983 to 2003 Conway averaged 3.54 points a game and 1.84 goals a game. If you averaged 3.54 points and 1.84 goals a game in today’s EPL you’d score 99 goals and 191 points. Conway scored 753 points in 274 games for the Beavers and Bison making him far and away the club’s most potent forward of all time. Conway also famously scored 252 points in 29 games for Telford Tigers in the old British Division 1 back in 1987-88. At 8.68 points per game that’s essentially a point every 7-8 minutes!
Now residing in Florida, the Basingstoke hockey legend took a few moments to answer some of my questions as well as some of yours.
NOTE: Kevin’s answers have been tidied up for grammar but have not been edited.
You were born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario which is proper hockey country. What was it like growing up in that part of the world?
It is what your use to so you know no different until you are living some where else. I enjoyed it.
You first appeared in the OHL with Oshawa but how did it feel to take to the ice for the hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds?
It felt different because now you are playing in front of your friends an family so you don’t want to screw up.
You played 175 games in the OHL, went over a point a game and won the 1984 Most Sportsmanlike Player award; what is your fondest memory of your days in junior hockey?
Scoring 5 goals in one game 1 shy of tying the record. Then talking to my dad the next day an he was telling me he was at the Soo Greyhound game an they were telling everyone over the tanoid what was going on in Kingston.
You played in the International Hockey League for a season and a half and then made your way to Britain in 1985 to play for Ayr. How did that come about?
Tim Salmon asked me if I wanted to come over with him to play with him.
Over the following 6 years with Ayr, Durham, Telford and Cleveland you played 169 games and scored 1039 points including 252 points in 29 games in part of a season with Telford. All these years later is it any easier to get your head around those kinds of numbers?
No because even today people keep mentioning it to me.
In 1991 you left the north of Britain for the Basingstoke Beavers, what prompted the change to move so far south?
Tim Salmon again.
That first season in Basingstoke saw you score 175 points and earn a call up to the Great Britain national side as they played in Hull for the World Championships pool C. What do you remember of that season for club and country?
It was a great year in Basingstoke. The national team I remember when they told me I was the MVP of the tournament. I was glad in being a last minute acquisition that I helped the team win.
After 5 seasons with the Beavers, the club joined the newly formed Superleague and changed its name to Bison; did you like the name change?
You had the opportunity to play more for GB over time; do you have a favourite moment for the national side?
Scoring a goal against team Canada and scoring against team Russia in Italy
Your totals in Basingstoke are 274 games played, 377 goals + 376 assists for 753 points which is beyond impressive but given a choice, give us you favourite goal or assist in the 7 years you played in Hampshire.
They all were the same.
Why do you think you stayed in Basingstoke so long and what finally prompted you to leave?
I enjoyed the city, I was treated right, it was a good place to bring up a family. I left because Rich Strachan the new coach at the time didn’t give me what I wanted an other teams did.
Your last season in the Superleague was with Newcastle, how did that go for you?
It was fun
Hull, Chelmsford and Solihull followed. When you dropped into the English Premier League as it was then, your points totals rose again. What led you to leave the Barons at the end of 2003/04?
The team as a business was struggling and couldn’t afford to pay like a lot of teams do.
You returned to league hockey for two seasons with Solway in the Scottish National League, what led to the comeback?
What do you think the legacy you’ve left in British hockey is?
All good I hope.
What do you remember about your jersey retirement night in Basingstoke?
The unavailing of the jersey.
Icewolf asks: “How is your son getting on (with hockey) and what level is he playing at now?”
He is playing for Victory Honda Major Midgets (U18) in Detroit. He has a lot of teams asking about him so lets hope he moves to the next level.
Fragility asks: “What is your proudest hockey achievement?”
Winning at Wembley, playing against Team Canada and Russia
Matt asks: “Would you ever like to get involved in hockey in Basingstoke again?”
Sure I would love to coach them
And the last one: any closing comments to Britain’s hockey fans and Bison fans in particular?
You’re the greatest