HALIFAX -- An annual tradition for over four decades, popular Cape Breton high school hockey tournament, The Riverview Red Cup, is going through a few changes in 2020.

Typically attracting thousands of spectators to watch many teams compete, the event is reducing the number of participating teams and is taking place earlier in the day amidst concerns of underage drinking.

"It's been pretty controversial," says hockey fan Brent Desveaux.

The iconic hockey event is usually an eight-team affair, but 2020’s installation of the competition will see just six teams go head-to-head. It's also a day shorter, with teams playing during the afternoon, rather than in the evening.

Lisa MacDonald's son, Dylan, was previously the captain of the Riverview Redmen team. She says she led a letter-writing campaign to organizers, on behalf of what she says are hundreds of upset parents and alumni.

"This has been 42 years running,” says MacDonald. “It's been the legacy of the principal that was at the school, Bob Mackenzie, when I attended Riverview."

Many suspect the changes, particularly the time of day the Riverview Redmen play, are the result of concerns about underage drinking.

"I think it's been somewhat overblown,” says Desveaux. “But if that indeed is a problem – deal with it.  But you don't have to destroy the credibility of a tournament that people look forward to."

In addition to the change in game time, the exclusion of two local teams from Glace Bay High and Sydney Academy has only added to the controversy.

In a statement, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education says, in part:

“Over the last year, the school has been in discussions with representatives from the CBRM, Cape Breton Regional Police, the Centre for Education and local high school principals to collaborate on providing the safest, and most memorable experience we can for our students, participants, and the community...”

While coaching staff from Glace Bay High and Sydney Academy haven’t commented on the issue, they note there may be a meeting with tournament officials before the tournament takes place.

"Supposedly, S.A. and Glace Bay are going to be reinstated into the tournament,” says Desveaux. “Which is the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, Riverview played in Sydney Academy's tournament, the Blue and White Tournament, which wrapped up on Sunday. With the Riverview Red Cup weeks away, some are hoping for changes of heart.

"Inside of a month, it's easy to change formats up,” says MacDonald. “I've seen where formats can change within two days of a tournament."