Kevin Conway was one of the most talented players to come to this country from Canada in the sport’s modern era. Capped for his adopted country in seven World Championships and two Olympic Qualifiers in the 1990s, he also played 20 campaigns with various club sides, scoring a prodigious total of 2,617 points (1,355 goals) in 738 competitive games at all levels.
In season 1983-84, his final year of junior eligibility, he was the leading goal scorer in the Ontario Major Junior A League with Kingston Canadians and was expected to be drafted by the NHL, along with his team-mate and friend Tim Salmon, who led the league in points.
Instead, Conway spent a year in the North American IHL before deciding to come to Europe and join Salmon on the Ayr Bruins in 1985-86. The pair smashed all single-season scoring records, with Kevin firing in 129 goals in just 35 Heineken British League games. This made him a shoo-in as the league’s Player of the Year and a natural for the right-wing berth on the All-Star team.
After a spell back in the IHL with Salmon, he was recruited by Tom Smith, the boss of Durham Wasps, in mid-season of 1986-87. On a line with Mario Belanger and the boss’s son Paul Smith, he scored four points (one goal) to help the Wasps snatch the Heineken British Championship crown at Wembley Arena from the powerful Murrayfield Racers.
A change of coach at Durham to the controversial Wayne ‘Heavy’ Evers resulted in his shock sacking after the early season cup games in 1987-88, but he and Salmon were reunited again at Chuck Taylor’s ambitious Telford Tigers, who competed in the league’s second tier.
He terrorised the netminders again with 148 goals in just 29 games and ran up his highest ever single-season points total with 252. The Tigers won the Division One (South) title and he was crowned Player of the Year and an All-Star again. After Tigers failed to win the league in spite of his second high scoring season, he and Salmon were released.
For the 1989-90 campaign, the pair split up with Conway joining Division One’s Cleveland Bombers. Their top scorer in the regular season, he added 17 goals and 18 assists in six play-off games to help the Bombers secure promotion to the Premier Division, and his place on the All-Star team.
The Bombers failed to retain their place at the top so he and buddy Salmon decided to move south together and join Canadian coach Peter Woods at Basingstoke Beavers. The pair rampaged through Division One in the 1991-92 season. Conway hit a century in league goals for the fourth time in his British career and was voted onto the All-Star team again.
The Dynamic Duo split up for good after this as Woods recruited Belanger and Rick Fera alongside Conway for 1992-93. They formed the core of a devastating attack that was key to the team winning the title by nine points and securing promotion to the Premier Division. The trio swept the forward line on the All-Star team.
Basingstoke joined the highly professional Superleague in 1996-97 and though Conway was 33 years old, he remained among their top scorers despite the stronger opposition. After seven seasons with the Hampshire club, he was their all-time leading scorer with 950 points (481 goals).
He retained his touch around the net for his last season at the top level, when he headed the Newcastle Riverkings’ points chart in 1998-99. After starting the following year alongside fellow veteran Ron Shudra at Hull Thunder, he dropped to the third tier English Premier League where he felt his skills would be of more use in working with the league’s promising young local players.
On Chelmsford Chieftains, he and coach Erskine Douglas inspired the team to the best season in their 13-year history, sweeping the board with league, play-off and cup trophies. After three more seasons in the league at Solihull, he ended his career in Scotland with two years at Solway Sharks.
Conway was capped 58 times for Great Britain, beginning in 1992, and was a member of the 1993 squad that memorably won promotion to the A Pool of the World Championships. He also took part in two Olympic Qualifying series. His 33 markers make him (in 2020) the national team’s fourth highest goal scorer of all-time.
Son Scott followed in his father’s skate tracks. Coached by Kevin when the family lived in Hull, the 20-year-old top-scored for GB in the Olympic Qualifying games in 2020.
Kevin Scott Conway was born on 13 July 1963 at Sault St. Marie, Ontario. The Basingstoke club retired his number 10 shirt in 2005 and raised it to the rafters. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.