How friends stepped in to save a New Years’ tradition

By Gordon Lambie
How friends stepped in to save a New Years’ tradition
(Photo : Matthew McCully)

On December 31, Nancy Chretien, Douglas Blair, and Frank Gilbert launched a plan to save a local tradition and cheer up a good friend. The plan ended up being so successful that it also raised more than $1,500 for charity over the course of just two hours with nothing more than a couple of rounds of street hockey and the support of a caring community.
At the heart of the secret plan is Eric Mackeage, who has been coordinating friendly hockey games in Lennoxville on December 31 every year for decades.
“The tradition was going to come to an end because of the COVID lockdown,” Mackeage told The Record, sharing that although he had inherited the organization of the annual event rather than come up with it himself, it was looking like he was going to be the one to end an unbroken chain of over 40 years of games. “I was pretty depressed about it.”

According to Chretien, it was the news of the games’ cancellation that got her gears turning.
“It was just before we closed for the Christmas holidays at work and we were talking about how it wouldn’t be the same without Eric’s annual hockey game,” she said, explaining that while at first the idea was just to coordinate a drive-by visit to cheer Mackeage up, it wasn’t long before the idea of street hockey came up, and that just seemed like the natural thing to do.

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