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MSHSL Board Decides on Winter Sports

By Tony Scott, 10/01/20, 9:30PM CDT


Governing body approves winter sports with 30 percent reduction in games for '20-'21

2020 Class A champions - Mahtomedi

Meeting answers some, but not all questions

The MSHSL board of directors voted Thursday to approve winter sports with some noted exceptions. Both girls and boys hockey will play only 18 regular season games and will likely be allowed section play if the current COVID numbers do not spike. Any concrete discussion about winter post-season was not on the agenda. 

Boys hockey starts a week later than normal on November 23, with girls starting a month later than normal on November 30. Both sports align with the end dates of their gender specific fall sport (Boys hockey/football and girls hockey/volleyball).

More facts:

-Teams will play only two games per week against conference, section and local teams. The only exception to the two game rule is for games re-scheduled due to COVID in the final two weeks of the season.

-No tournaments and teams must only play conference, section or "local" teams this season.

-At this time, the MSHSL has stated that it will not allow fans into indoor events.  A decision met with skepticism considering the MN Department of Health has allowed other amateur sporting events since July 1. The MSHSL did not respond to a YHH request for comment on Thursday.

-Winter playoffs could be determined as early the next MSHSL board meeting held December 3.

In other news, the board voted down a Super Regional motion that would allow for fall sport section champions to play each other. The vote was 10-8 against. Timing with winter sports and potential lost revenue because of fan restrictions.

Winter playoffs did get mentioned a number of times, mostly with a cautious "wait and see" tone.

2020 YHH Player of the Year Peyton Hemp exclaims after the Huskies first ever state title

13 minutes

The three proposals submitted Thursday at the MSHSL Board meeting

At 11:11 AM MSHSL board member Frank White made a motion to reduce the Maximize Winter schedule from 30%  fewer games to 20% fewer amounting to about two more games (20). After a very short conversation without objection (four minutes), the motion was amended back to 30% (18 games). Six minutes later, the board passed the motion unanimously 18-0. 

In a 13 minute span, teams lost two games.

Five plus questions

Who will be hurt the most by this decision?

Arenas - fewer hours of ice used
Parents - cost of the sport will rise
Players - loss of some games, high school experience
Fans - students, grandparents, enthusiasts all kept outside the building.
Channel 45 - the channel's most viewed programming each year.
Dr. Chuck Els - the famous doctor and his institute of laughter may never laugh again.

Who wins as a result of these decisions?

-Tier 1 USA hockey programs who offer 60+ games
-Pay-to-play junior hockey (USPHL, NA3HL)
-Streaming services
-Credentialed media

Will there be a bridge league before and after the MSHSL?

There have been a number of sanctioned and unsanctioned possibilities that have been floated around including a league managed by Minnesota Hockey beginning in late October and concluding in late November. Many concepts for a post-season could be accomplished using the same system. The only current catch with these work-arounds is MSHSL rules prohibit MSHSL coaches from coaching at these times.

Will there be long-term affects if no state tournament?

Yes. The MSHSL generates millions of dollars each year from fan attendance, merchandise and television contracts. Without a boys state tournament, the league stands to lose both revenue and relevance. 

How will this affect Junior hockey?

With the dispersal of five junior teams (two USHL and three NAHL), the level of play at the junior level improved greatly. On top of that, NCAA hockey has given its players the ability to opt back to juniors while a decision is made on their hockey season. Thus leaving fewer options for high school-aged players to move to this season.

How will this affect Bantam hockey?

We think that the smaller number of games will drive more Bantam eligible players away from high school hockey, potentially making that level more competitive during the 20-21 season.

Will there be 2021 state tourney?

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