H.S. girls hockey gets green light to start winter season

One day after the CIAC’s Board of Control approved a plan for its winter sports season, the Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association followed suit and will allow teams to begin practices next week.

The decision, and the COVID safety protocols to be used this season, were confirmed during a meeting of the CHSGHA’s executive committee on Friday, according to chair Dane Street, the athletic director in Ridgefield.

Teams will be permitted to hold practices as of Tuesday, with games starting as early as Feb. 8. A maximum of 12 games will be allowed during the regular season, which will end March 12.

Although there will be no state tournament, postseason conference tournaments can be held March 15-28. Last year, conference tournaments were played and the state tournament had reached its semifinal round before being canceled due to the pandemic.

For Street, the most important aspect of moving forward is getting the athletes and coaches back together with their teams.

“As far as I’m concerned, whether or not we actually get to play in games is completely secondary,” Street said. “With the protocols that are in place, the ability to let our coaches get connected with kids again, and get back in the gym or on the ice, is the most important thing that we can do right now.”

The CHSGHA is following the CIAC’s guidance and protocols for COVID safety.

Connecticut girls ice hockey teams will be permitted to start holding practices as of Tuesday.

Connecticut girls ice hockey teams will be permitted to start holding practices as of Tuesday.

Matthew Brown / Hearst Connecticut Media

According to the CHSGHA rules “all event attendees, including coaches, athletes, rink personnel, athletic trainers and spectators are required to wear face masks.”

Games will feature one-minute “mask time outs” at the first stoppage of play after the four-, eight-, and 12-minute marks of each period, and teams must maintain social distance on benches “as much as possible.” Social distance should also be maintained when captains talk with referees, and during the pregame meeting with captains and coaches.

Locker rooms can be used if they are large enough to permit for social distancing, and are “properly cleaned and sanitized prior to arrival.”

Although girls ice hockey, which is designated a moderate-sport by the National Federation of High School Sports, is not sanctioned by the CIAC, the CHSGHA typically follows the CIAC’s guidance.

Girls ice hockey is not sanctioned by the CIAC because it does not meet the organization’s minimum requirement for number of teams. The FCIAC, SCC and CCC are the state’s three high school conferences which include the sport, and there were 22 teams during the 2019-20 season.

Street said giving the players a chance to be part of a team again is a victory.

“If we can provide an opportunity for them to be together with their teammates, working out and playing the sport they love, even if it’s modified or not full contact right now, that’s important,” Street said. “That was the most important thing for me and I’m glad we have the opportunity to do that.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports