Whistled for a foul

Conant’s Anthony Gauthier draws a foul from ConVal’s Owen Michaels, left, with added pressure from Taylor Burgess during the schoolboy holiday basketball tourament at Keene State College in December. The ConVal team was named a co-champion after the NHIAA canceled tournaments in March due to the coronavirus.

As the Keene boys ice hockey team skated off the ice at Everett Arena weeks ago, it was looking forward to a chance at winning the Division II boys ice hockey state championship for the second time in three years.

Monday morning, the NHIAA offered the Blackbirds what can be considered at least a silver lining.

A press release from the NHIAA stated, “By unanimous vote, the NHIAA Executive Council has enacted a resolution in order to fulfill its duties with regard to the awarding of State Champion and Runner-Up plaques and medals to teams participating in tournaments cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Keene ends up being recognized as co-champions with St. Thomas Aquinas, last year’s state champions.

While Keene will be champions for the second time in three years, it’s not the way the Blackbirds envisioned it.

“I just wish they could have ended this all with a great memory and something they’ll never forget,” Keene boys hockey coach Chris McIntosh said. “Unfortunately it is a memory they’ll never forget, but it’s just not the one we were looking for.”

The Keene boys basketball and ConVal boys basketball teams also never got a chance to finish out their playoff runs, as both were in the quarterfinal rounds of the state tournament when the winter tournaments were canceled — the Blackbirds in Division I and the Cougars in Division II.

The Blackbirds boys basketball team was named a runner-up in Division I. Keene shares that designation with Alvirne, Merrimack, Nashua North, Nashua South and Salem. The co-champions are Portsmouth and Exeter.

ConVal, the No. 1 seed in Division II boys basketball, was recognized as co-champion, alongside Bow.

“We’re honored to have been named co-champions,” Cougars head coach Leo Gershgorin said. “This is certainly not the way we wanted to earn a championship, but we are still very grateful for the recognition. In regard to the process, the NHIAA was in a no-win situation. They had to make an extremely difficult decision and made the best one based on all the information. I’m thankful for the time they took under such severe circumstances.”