The MIAA ice hockey committee unanimously approved its tournament format during a virtual meeting Friday, a format that will feature a lot of changes and deletions for the transition to the statewide tournament next season.
Among the updates to the format (approved, 17-0, to be passed on to the tournament management committee for final approval) were guidelines for site requirements for postseason games. Hull athletic director Scott Paine, who also serves as a tournament director, voiced his concern with the transition to home ice for the higher-seeded team through the state quarterfinals, whereas in the past a large majority of ice time was at neutral venues pre-selected by tournament and MIAA staff.
“It’s going to be a very big learning curve for the schools that are hosting these games,” said Paine, noting that it is critical that site managers and other event staff can be readily identifiable.
Under the format, sites for preliminary and Round of 32 games must have a minimum capacity of 250, with increases to 500 for the Round of 16, and 1,000 for state quarterfinals. Neutral sites will be used for state semifinals and championship games.
Other considerations will include: condition of ice surface; crowd control; parking capacity; ticket sales control; locker rooms; and handicap accessibility. If a higher seed cannot secure a suitable site, the lower seed would host. If neither team has a suitable venue, the tournament director would place the game in a neutral site.
“Scott and our other tournament directors have been very clear about that challenge, because what we are used to doing is booking our ice today, like right now, in June,” MIAA assistant director Richard Pearson said. “So now we might be presented with the challenge of, we don’t have a site.”
▪ A large chunk of the previous format dealing with the particulars of Division 1A (Super 8) was deleted, given the uncertain fate of that tournament. The ice hockey and baseball committees are planning to appeal the TMC’s vote, based on a recommendation from the blue ribbon committee, for a four-year pause on 1A tournaments.
Pearson didn’t have an update for the ice hockey committee on the status of any potential appeal. The MIAA announced Friday morning that a TMC meeting scheduled for Monday has been canceled.
▪ Although the option for teams to play 17-minute periods in the regular season was recently approved via the MIAA’s rules change process, postseason games will continue to have 15-minute periods.
▪ With the full approval of a five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime period for regular-season games beginning next season, Westford Academy dean of students Bob Ware suggested that language be clarified for in-season tournaments. Those games will use the MIAA five-minute overtime format and then, if still tied, can use any additional overtime/shootout format to determine a winner.
▪ In any postseason game except a state final, each team will be allowed one timeout in overtime, even if a team used its timeout during regulation. Unused regulation timeouts will not carry over into overtime.
▪ There will be two referees and one linesman in all games through the Round of 16, and a second linesman will be added for all games beginning in the state quarterfinals. All on-ice officials must have worked at least nine MIAA regular-season games.
▪ On recommendations from committee members, teams will be warned for entering the ice before the officials at the start of any period, and could be subject to a bench minor penalty for further violations.
Jim Clark can be reached at email@example.com.