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Tuesday, December 1 High School Sports

Girls ice hockey follows CIAC’s lead, moves start of season to Jan. 19


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The Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association will follow the lead of the CIAC and put its season on hold until January 19, according to executive committee chair Dane Street, Ridgefield’s athletic director.

Athletic directors of member schools were notified of the CHSGHA decision on Thursday.

“Our executive committee spoke (on Wednesday), and we’re going to follow suit,” Street said. “So the start of the season at the moment is Jan. 19, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll try to figure out what the season (will look like).”

The CIAC Board of Control held a discussion on Tuesday morning before announcing the postponement of the start of the winter sports season due to the rising COVID metrics in Connecticut.

CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini cited a number of schools have moved to distance learning, with many others in hybrid learning. Lungarini also noted that some of those districts had looked at Jan. 19 as a return date for in-school learning.

While girls ice hockey is not a CIAC-sanctioned sport, the CHSGHA typically follows CIAC rules and decisions.

When the CIAC canceled its winter sports tournaments at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, the CHSGHA also canceled its state playoffs, which were then in the semifinal round.

Street pointed to the CIAC’s consultations with medical professionals as a key part of the decision.

“They do a lot of the leg work to vet things through their medical community,” Street said. “Our organization isn’t nearly as extensive in terms of manpower, so we take their lead and we trust that the decisions they’re making are based on the science available. They’re following the recommendations of their medical community and who are we to second-guess that? So it makes the most sense for us to follow suit.”

Girls ice hockey is not a CIAC-sanctioned sport because there are too few programs. For the 2019-20 season, there were 22 teams in three conferences — the FCIAC, CCC and SCC — although 64 schools were represented by having at least one player on the many co-ops in the sport.

Many of the girls ice hockey players also compete on club teams, even during the high school season, which is allowed under CHSGHA rules.

It’s the “only real difference” from CIAC rules, according to Street.

“Essentially the only reason for that rule is because we still feel like it’s not quite at the point where if we made kids decide, they’d choose to play for their high schools,” Street said.

He said that players can compete for their club teams while the CHSGHA season is on hold this winter.

“With this news from the CIAC, there’s a lot of ice time (at rinks) that is probably up for grabs because the schools aren’t paying for it now,” Street said. “So there is opportunity there for people, if there are extensions of youth programs that could put together a team for high school age girls or boys, and grab those ice slots to give kids the opportunities over the next couple of weeks for the families that want to do that.”

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The same is true for coaches, something Street noted in his email to athletic directors on Thursday.

“There is no CHSGHA rule prohibiting a coach’s contact with his or her high school players in a non-high school setting,” the email read. “This is the case both in and out of season.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

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