There may not be a state tournament. Teams may not have the usual 20-22 game regular season slates. But, things are looking pretty good that the 2020-2021 Massachusetts HS Hockey season will happen and begin on time with pre-season practices on Monday, November 30th.
Expect there to be some modifications in order for the games to be played.
The MIAA Ice Hockey Committee has put together a sub-committee that next week will begin to put together a list of recommendations/modifications that it will present to the Ice Hockey Committee.
“At this point I am fully confident we will have a high school hockey season,” said MIAA Ice Hockey Chairman Dan Shine, the head coach and athletic director at Arlington Catholic. “No doubt there will be some modifications. As of now, we plan on starting November 30th.”
Potentially, one key thing that could keep HS hockey in Massachusetts from being played is if there is a significant uptick in positive Co-Vid cases in the next several weeks, resulting in more cities and towns being designated “red” on the weekly Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Coronavirus Risk Map.
Any recommendations that the sub-committee comes up with will need to meet the minimum guidelines put forth by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), which is expected to come out with additional information on youth sports early in November. According to the latest EEA guidelines, ice hockey is considered a “high-risk” activity.
According to Shine, the sub-commitee will present its recommendations to the MIAA Ice Hockey Committee, which will approve or not approve them. Those recommendations will then go to the Sports Medicine Committee, and to the MIAA Co-Vid Task Force before getting final approval from the MIAA Board of Directors.
Some of the issues certain to be discussed by the sub-committee with regards to recommendations include things like the no checking/no deliberate contact guideline currently in place in the state of Massachusetts, will players/coaches need to wear masks/facial coverings on the bench and on the ice?, as well as locker room and player bench issues.
One possibility that could happen is the game consisting of two halves instead of the usual three periods, which would eliminate one locker room stay.
Earlier this fall, the MIAA created a new wedge season in the sports calendar (Fall II), which is scheduled to run from February 22 to April 25 and include football and other fall sports not being currently played. That means the winter season has to end by February 21, which could mean no MIAA state tournament.
“The Tournament Management Committee is still looking into trying to have a state tournament in some form,” Shine said. “If there is not an MIAA Tournament, you could see individual leagues having their own tournaments at the end of the season.”
If there is a state tournament, regular season game schedules would be smaller.