One aspect of the Manchester Monarchs Christmas Hockey Classic that Bedford High School boys' hockey coach Marty Myers thinks his players enjoy is the opportunity to play against former teammates.
The tournament will run Tuesday through Friday and all the games will be played at JFK Coliseum in Manchester. The field consists of Division I teams Bedford, Manchester Central/West, Manchester Memorial, Concord, Hanover and Trinity of Manchester and Division II programs Bow and Goffstown.
"I think the biggest thing that they enjoy is all these local teams (have) kids they played with in their youth programs and then they go off to the high school programs and they get to see each other again at the high-school level," Myers said. "I think the kids really enjoy playing amongst their past peers and we think it's a pretty competitive tournament."
Bedford has won both the Christmas tournament and the Division I title each of the past two seasons. Concord has reached the D-I championship game in two of the past three seasons. Bow is the reigning Division II champion and finished runner-up in 2016.
Bow and Hanover will play each other in the tournament's first game Tuesday at 2 p.m. Memorial will play Central/West at 8 that night. Crusaders coach Mark Putney, who organizes the tournament, said the tradition of Central and Memorial playing in the classic goes back to the early 1970s.
"Anytime we have an intercity rivalry (game), especially with Central, the kids really get excited for it," Putney said. "Although it doesn't affect our (regular-season) schedule, it's bragging rights."
Putney said the tournament will help his young team develop its chemistry and help it identify areas that need to be fine-tuned.
"You have three games in a row so you can kind of work out some of the glitches you may have," Putney said.
Myers plans to use the tournament to give additional playing time to some skaters who don't see as much during the regular season and try different line combinations.
The Manchester Monarchs, ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, have sponsored the tournament each of the past two years.
The Monarchs and E&R Cleaners will run a coat drive throughout the four-day tournament. Each person who donates a lightly-worn or new coat will receive one complimentary ticket voucher to a future Monarchs game.
"The ability to support high school hockey in the city of Manchester is not only important to the Monarchs as an organization, but the community as a whole," Monarchs CEO Brian Cheek said in a statement. "We would like to thank all the players, their families, coaches, staff and volunteers for making this such a great tournament over the years and for many years to come."