As the fall high school season gets underway in the Bay State with the first competitive games being played since March, there is heightened optimism that the 2020-2021 Massachusetts high school hockey season will get to start on time the Monday after Thanksgiving.
With the recommendation of the MIAA COVID-19 Task Force, the MIAA Board of Directors in August approved the implementation of a Fall II sports season, which will take place from February 22nd – April 25th and include football, fall cheer, unified basketball and any other sports not played in the current fall season (many leagues have opted to move volleyball to this new Fall II season). In conjunction with that, the MIAA Board of Directors also approved a winter sports season to run from November 30th – February 21st.
The MIAA Ice Hockey Committee is scheduled to meet next week and will take a look at the upcoming winter season.
Currently, hockey game play is allowed in Massachusetts under certain guidelines as set forth by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, guidelines that include no checking, minimized contact and face coverings for officials, coaches and players while on the bench and when taking a face-off. With the start of pre-season workouts a little over two months away, it is unknown if all the current guidelines will still be in place at that time.
“If that is what we have to do in order to play, then we will deal with it,” said a longtime coach of a Mass. HS program. “If there are concessions we have to follow, we will be willing to do it. We want the kids to be able to play. Kids are playing now, so that is good evidence that it can work.”
With the shortened winter season, coupled with spectator restrictions, the status of the post-season state tournaments is unknown at this time. It is sure to be discussed at Wednesday’s Ice Hockey Committee meeting. Another possibility are abbreviated regular season schedules of say 16-18 games instead of the usual 20-22 game slate.
We are also hearing that the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association will be putting together some recommendations to present to the Ice Hockey Committee in the process. One item that is being floated is a recommendation of playing 2 25-minute halves this season.