Could High School Hockey Play a Full Season?
On the heels of news that the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has shifted prep football and volleyball back to its normal fall season, the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association (MHCA) is ready to present a pair of proposals to the league. The next meeting of the MSHSL is October 1 when they will tackle the plan for winter sports.
One plan, presuming low COVID numbers, would allow for a pre-season scrimmage and a 24-game regular season. The other plan, contending higher COVID numbers, would still feature a 21-game season. The plans are detailed in The Rink Live publication and only address boys' hockey specifically when it comes to dates. But the ideas could theoretically work for the girls too.
Both plans include a full section tournament and state tournament. Considering how the high school league has handled the fall season, much of this feels very optimistic.
Fall sports are allowed an abbreviated section postseason with no indication of a state tournament. Their regular seasons were also reduced by about a-third of what they usually are.
Moorhead hockey coach Jon Ammerman is president of MHCA and admitted in The Rink's Live piece, "We put in specifics, but we left it vague in certain areas because we don't know what that's going to look like in two months and it's tough to predict. Ultimately, the Department of Health has guidance in that and what it might look like."
The first proposal would have teams play the same team twice each week on a Thursday-Friday-Saturday schedule. The home-and-home concept is similar to what college hockey teams ordinarily do. "It's in the pod frame of thinking," Ammerman said.
He added, "There'd be at least five days for the (COVID-19) symptoms to show up before we went and played another opponent. The hope is that we'd only have to quarantine two teams instead of multiple."
The more modest plan would feature one game per week against a regional opponent for the first part of the season and would include a mandatory holiday break. Teams would then go to the home-and-home concept for the balance of the season.
Both plans include numerous health protocols including masking, temperature checks, pods, no post game handshakes, or pre game huddles.