FRANKLIN — Meeting for the first time in person since January 2020, the MIAA ice hockey committee spent much of its hour-plus session Wednesday morning discussing and getting up to speed on changes for the upcoming season.
MIAA associate director Richard Pearson opened the meeting by acknowledging longtime chairman Dan Shine, who was not in attendance because of health issues. Shine, the athletic director and boys’ hockey coach at Arlington Catholic, was unanimously reappointed as committee chair, a position he has held since 1991-92. Lowell AD Dave Lezenski was reappointed as vice chair, and Westford Academy dean of students Bob Ware was voted as secretary, both unanimously.
Lezenski and Wellesley AD John Brown briefed the committee on the ongoing realignment process for the new statewide tournament. While any team wishing to move up into a higher division from its initial placement was automatically granted, Lezenski estimated that more than 40 programs asked to move down, and that all but one had already been granted on the first wave of appeals.
The committee also discussed the MIAA power ratings system, which will feature a margin-of-victory cap of 3 goals per game for boys’ and girls’ hockey.
Ware stressed the need to communicate to ice hockey programs the two rule changes — optional 17-minute periods, and mandatory 5-minute 4-on-4 overtime — that were finalized in June as part of the MIAA’s biannual rules change process. For in-season tournaments, the official MIAA overtime format must be used first. If the game remains tied after 5 minutes of OT, it is declared a tie for MIAA record and power ratings purposes, and then any additional overtime or shootout format can be used to determine a winner, if necessary.
Pearson also introduced a pair of new committee members: Auburn AD Brian Davis (District 2) and Bridgewater-Raynham AD Billy O’Connell (District 8), as well as new MIAA executive director Bob Baldwin — who sat in on the meeting as an observer.
Field hockey update
In the MIAA field hockey committee meeting held virtually Wednesday morning, the operative word was communication.
With the association transitioning to a statewide tournament for field hockey (along with football, soccer, and girls’ volleyball for the fall season), in which the four divisions will be seeded by power ratings, it is imperative that schools input scores on a daily basis to the Arbiter database.
The plan, according to associate director Sherry Bryant, liaison to the field hockey committee, is to release the first rankings next week. If a school has not been timely in reporting scores, it will be evident, and impact the overall rankings for all.
The shortage of bus drivers is an ongoing issue for schools statewide, and that includes transporting athletic teams after school at the varsity and sub-varsity level. In the first two weeks of the school year, the issue has prompted game cancellations and later start times.
What happens in the state tournament, when traditionally, the majority of field hockey games are scheduled for 2:30 starts? And now, in a statewide tournament, resulting in longer road trips.
“What happens, if say, Rockport has to go to Smith Academy (Hatfield) for a game?” asked committee chair Mary Ryan, the longtime coach at Rockport.
That 2:30 start, particularly for host schools that do not have lighted fields, will require a much earlier release from school. And will administrators grant a request for departure at 11 a.m.?
All agreed that is a common issue, one requiring open communication lines between athletic directors and principals. “This conversation is not new,” said Ryan, who said she has received numerous inquiries from ADs and coaches in the North.
Acknowledging the bus challenges, Bryant said “we will have to be very communicative, and supportive of each other.”
Craig Larson of the Globe staff also contributed to this story.
Jim Clark can be reached at email@example.com.