The 2019-20 high school girls hockey season in Massachusetts might be particularly noteworthy for the addition of one team that doesn’t even lie within the borders of the Commonwealth.
Faced with the possibility of a dissolving league, officials from Central and Western Mass. sought and gained approval from both the MIAA and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Council to add Woodstock Academy to the league. Located just over the border in Connecticut, Woodstock* may be the first team from outside the state ever to be an affiliate member of an MIAA league in any sport. (Girls ice hockey is not a sanctioned sport in Connecticut because of the relative low number of teams.)
With the move, the Central West league will have eight teams in two divisions – the A Division will include Algonquin/Hudson, Longmeadow, Shrewsbury and former independent St. Peter-Marian, while Woodstock will be in the B Division with Auburn, Leominster and former independent Oakmont. *Woodstock will not be eligible to play in the MIAA tournament.
In a more traditional fashion, there will be two more additions to the girls hockey landscape among MIAA schools. Bishop Feehan will skate as an independent varsity team for the first time, while Nantucket also adds girls hockey, bringing the total of MIAA programs to 89. But that number is only one higher than last season, as Stoneham and Melrose have merged into a co-op program in the Middlesex League.
Nantucket will be part of the new Cape & Islands League that also will include Barnstable, the Cape Cod Furies, Dennis-Yarmouth, Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard and Sandwich.
Marshfield, the other remaining team from the disbanded Atlantic Coast League, will be in the Southeastern Mass. Girls Hockey League, and the Rams also will play every Patriot League team once in preparation for the school’s recently approved move into that league beginning next season. Elsewhere in the SEMGHL, Old Rochester has taken over as the host school of the co-op that also includes Bourne, Mashpee and Wareham. Bishop Stang, Cohasset/Hanover and Norwell round out the league, with Latin Academy/Fontbonne becoming an independent.
In other news among independents, Shawsheen now will be a co-op team with Bedford.
As is the case with boys hockey, the girls hockey cutoff moves up a day this season. All teams must be done by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, with tournament seedings the following day. Also, girls hockey teams and leagues also will have the option of taking part in the MIAA’s approved two-year pilot program allowing a five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime period during regular-season games.