PIHL plans to delay varsity season unless indoor restrictions are changed

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 | 4:34 PM

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League on Wednesday sent information to officials from each league member detailing the status of its varsity, junior varsity and middle school seasons based on the state-government mandate of a 25-person limit for indoor gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Varsity games will not start unless there are changes to the 25-person limit which permit 5-on-5 varsity games with full benches.

The league would then review other options for a varsity season starting as early as Dec. 1.

“We listened to feedback from coaches and others as to how we could get a season started, and in general, they didn’t want to play varsity any way less than full speed 5-on-5,” PIHL commissioner John Mucha said.

Mucha said there have been discussions with the eastern side of the state about the possibility of pushing the state championship game back. He said that would give the PIHL the ability to start a shortened season with full benches in January and finish it before the Penguins Cup playoffs.

“By December, we will have seen what volleyball or basketball will have done to work around the same 25-person issue if it is still in place,” Mucha said.

Unlike most other high school sports, the PIHL is not governed by the PIAA.

Under the middle school/JV format, two games would be played between the same teams on a given play date.

Each team would have nine players, including goalies, per game. A second set of players, up to nine, would play the second game.

Each game would be two periods, and each period would be eight or nine minutes.

“For middle school and JV, they were more comfortable playing 4-on-4 than 3-on-3,” Mucha said. “Breaking it down into two separate games between the same teams, it would enable the organization to play most of its kids, rather than having a kid only play half a game. There are also safety solutions for how long they will be playing. This format seemed to cover both things.”

Each team at both levels still will have the option to play in one of the season-ending tournaments.

The games, Mucha stressed, would be played with the established safety guidelines and protocols in place.

Mucha said he and others are monitoring state legislation up for a vote next week which could give schools the ability to control the indoor limits. He said the league is ready to return the divisions to the normal season parameters if there are changes to those restrictions.

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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