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High school ice hockey season delayed with state’s temporary suspension of indoor sports

Princeton defenseman Will Erickson (right #14) charges for the puck against Hun, as Princeton defeated Hun, 7-5, for the MCT title at the Mercer County Skating Center on Feb. 21.

The Princeton High School (PHS) and Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) athletic departments, along with others statewide, are now adapting to Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order temporarily suspending indoor high school sports practices and competitions.

The issued order, which goes into effect on Dec. 5, comes as the state faces the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and a rise statewide in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The temporary suspension of youth and adult sports is scheduled to end on Jan. 2, if the order is not extended.

“As we battle the second wave of COVID-19, we must continue to take all steps necessary to prevent needless infections, hospitalizations and deaths from this deadly virus,” Murphy said in a statement on Nov. 30. “It is our intention for indoor sports to resume in the new year, but this can only happen if our state remains committed to the fight against COVID-19.”

For high school sports, the suspension impacts the start of the ice hockey season. Official practices were scheduled to start on Dec. 14. PHS and HVCHS would have then been able to start ice hockey competition play on Jan. 4, which was the official New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) start date for competition play statewide.

“NJSIAA is aware of the governor’s announcement regarding indoor sports and can confirm that it will impact the start of the high school ice hockey season. We’re hopeful that, with schedule modifications, the ice hockey season will be viable when the state’s pause is lifted,” the NJSIAA said in a statement on Nov. 30. “No other indoor, high school sports are impacted by the governor’s order at all but ice hockey had their start dates moved to January 2021 or later.”

If the order is not extended, high school basketball, fencing and bowling can begin official practices on Jan. 11 and have competitions commence starting Jan. 26; swimming and winter track and field are slated for practice starting on Feb. 1 and competition games then beginning on Feb. 16; and gymnastics, girls volleyball and wrestling practices will start on March 1 with competition play scheduled to kick off on March 16.

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