PIHL in a holding pattern, hoping to start season on time

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Friday, August 14, 2020 | 6:00 AM


The PIHL hopes to begin its 2020-21 season in early October, but league officials and teams are waiting for clarity on certain issues before going full speed ahead.

While many of the programs have been working out on and off the ice in anticipation of a season, PIHL commissioner John Mucha said the league is waiting to hear what the PIAA has to say about its fall sports moving forward as scheduled or possibly postponing until after Jan. 1.

The PIAA board of directors will meet next Friday to determine how to proceed.

“(PIHL hockey) is a club sport primarily and not affiliated with the PIAA, but we do work closely with the school districts,” Mucha said. “We don’t want to put ourselves in any situation of having issues with the sponsor schools. We will follow their guidelines.”

On Aug. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf strongly recommended delaying all youth sports until Jan. 1 over covid-19 concerns. The PIAA hopes to reach an agreement with Wolf to keep fall seasons in place.

“We’ve stressed to all of our programs and teams to follow the guidelines set by the CDC, the state government and the state department of health,” Mucha said. “Also, each school district has a plan posted on its website for workouts, and we want to make sure the teams are following those, too.”

Mucha said the league has been in contact with rink owners about the situation as it tries to keep as many people in the loop as possible.

Earlier this summer, the PIHL revealed varsity alignments with division breakdowns, and it normally releases the regular-season schedule in late August.

Mucha said the league, keeping the participating ice rinks and their overall schedules in mind, will wait to release any schedules until after next Friday.

“Again, we are going to wait until there is more guidance as far as the season is concerned,” Mucha said. “We would have a schedule that is flexible if the need to make changes should arise.”

The St. Margaret Fall Face-Off, the only high school preseason tournament the PIHL works with, was canceled, Mucha said.

Bethel Park hoped to defend its 2019 St. Margaret title. The Black Hawks defeated Canon-McMillan in the championship game.

Mucha said he hopes to play this season after the 2019-20 Penguins Cup playoffs initially were suspended in March and ultimately canceled in May in the early stages of the pandemic safety response.

The Class AAA playoffs were halted in the semifinals with top seed North Allegheny set to face No. 5 Pine-Richland and No. 3 Peters Township ready to take on No. 7 Seneca Valley.

Class AA, Class A and Class B had reached their championship games. Baldwin was to face Latrobe in the Class AA finals, and Thomas Jefferson and Indiana were to meet in the Class A championship game. The Class B title matchup had Carrick ready to take on Ringgold.

Numerous junior varsity and middle school tournaments also were halted before completion.

“Nothing has really changed on our end because we don’t know any new information other than we will be ready to hit the ice shortly after Labor Day. We haven’t heard anything different,” said Latrobe coach Josh Werner, who is guiding his players through dry-land workouts in preparation for what he hopes is a season that begins on time.

“The key to everything is what the school districts allow. I’m sure some districts will be different than others. I am kind of curious to see how that works out. For us, we know there are measures we can take to ensure the safety of all the players.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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