High school hockey coaches pitch plans to MSHSL for season

The Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association (MHCA) made its pitch to state athletic officials, which includes two possible plans for playing the high school season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) said winter sports are on the agenda for its Oct. 1 meeting, which includes boys and girls ice hockey.

“We’re willing to be flexible to allow for play but to really allow our kids to play safe, that’s our biggest pitch,” said Jon Ammerman, MHCA president.

The association introduced two proposals for the MSHSL to consider for the season.

Option one goes as follows:

The start date would be Nov. 9. One local scrimmage will be scheduled, followed by 24 competitions. Each week would consist of two games played per week on Thursday, Friday or Saturday (subject to ice availability). Matchups each week would be against the same opponent, home-and-home type of series. Each team would play 12 opponents from anywhere within Minnesota.

By keeping it to one opponent a week, the proposal highlights that it limits exposure to multiple teams if a player develops any COVID-19 symptoms.

Section playoffs would run from Feb. 15-27, and the state tournament would run from March 2-6.

Option two is presented as follows:

The start date would also be Nov. 9. One local scrimmage would be played, followed by 21 competitions. All matchups would be against regional opponents. Games would begin on Nov. 20, but only one game would be played a week until Dec. 31. A mandatory 10-day holiday break (Dec. 20-30) from competition would take place. After the new year begins, teams can then play two games a week played on Thursday, Friday or Saturday against the same opponent, matching the home-and-home series like the first option.

By keeping it to one game a week, this proposal highlights that it limits exposure to multiple teams if a player develops any COVID-19 symptoms. A holiday break would also provide a reset for teams to limit exposure as well. Teams would still be allowed to practice during that time.

Sectional playoffs would run from Feb. 22-27, with the state tournament running from March 2-6.

To see more specifics on the plans, click here.

Families and Schools Wait For State Decision

“Running around to different rinks and all of that is tough but obviously we’re Minnesotans, we do it because we love it,” said Josh Hoekstra.

At the Hoekstra house, three of their children lace up the skates including Luke, 15, Mac, 13, and Sadie, 11.

The family is waiting to see what happens with their oldest son’s high school season.

“From where we stated a couple of months ago to where we are today— I’m definitely more optimistic,” Hoekstra said. “I really believe we’re going to play.”

“It’s obviously going to look different than any other season,” said John Pohl, activities director at Hill-Murray.

Pohl said their rink times are booked for games as they await the MSHSL’s decision.

“The league has been clear, they are going to try and give every activity a season in some way,” Pohl said of other decisions this year from the MSHSL for fall sports.

Pohl, who was ‘Mr. Hockey’ in 1998, said some of his best memories in high school hockey weren’t the big tournaments but the practices and road trips with teammates.

“If there’s anything maybe that’s good to come out of this it’s just a privilege to be able to play and it can be taken from you quickly," Pohl said. “Even if our kids get three weeks it’s better than nothing.”