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MIAA statewide alignments coming into focus

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2020 5:03:40 PM
Modified: 5/15/2020 5:03:28 PM

It was a busy week for the MIAA, as the Ice Hockey Committee met virtually in addition to the Basketball Committee’s meeting on Thursday, and the big news of the day featured the recommendation of adding another division on the ice beginning in the fall of 2021.

The committee voted to approve recommendations for a four-division setup, which would add one division to the current three-division proposal for the new statewide tournament structure. Girls hockey would stay at two divisions, and the proposals will now be sent to the MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee for final approval. If approved there, the new formats would go into effect for the 2021-22 school year.

When the original plan for a statewide tournament was submitted and ultimately approved by the MIAA’s Board of Directors back in February, boys ice hockey was slated for three divisions. The BOD and TMC said they would rely on individual sport committees to alter their respective formats however, and ice hockey did so in Thursday’s meeting.

Boys’ hockey has 195 teams in the state, and the new format would call for 50 schools in Division 1, 49 in Division 2, 60 in Division 3 and 36 in Division 4. While the current division breakdown had 74 schools in Division 3 and 21 in Division 3A, the new alignment would bring those divisions a bit closer in terms of the number of teams, and with schools able to petition up and down for a variety of reasons, those numbers will likely come even closer together as some Division 3 schools are expected to petition to slide down.

Defending Division 3A state champion Greenfield High School is an interesting case study in the alignment talk. The Green Wave were placed into Division 3, but athletic director Mike Kuchieski said Friday they would have the opportunity to petition the MIAA for a move to Division 4.

The committee also voted to request a rule change beginning in 2021-22 that would extend the two-year pilot program involving overtime that began this past season. A mandatory five-minute overtime period would result in games tied after regulation for both boys’ and girls’ hockey.

A subcommittee also will be formed to explore whether the Division 1A (aka “Super 8”) tournament will continue once the statewide tournament format begins in 2021. The subcommittee will also explore whether girls’ hockey should add their own version.

The proposals will now be brought to the TMC, which meets next on June 4.

Football sticks with eight divisions

The MIAA Football Committee also met earlier this week and voted 14-0 in favor of continuing with its current eight-division format.

When the TMC originally set divisions for the new statewide structure, it recommended the sport move to a five-division format. The sport’s subcommittee disagreed, electing to keep things relatively similar for the next cycle of alignments. That, too, will need to go before the TMC for final approval, and the June 4 meeting has scheduled 90 minutes apiece for both football and hockey, with the rest of the sports spread out.

Franklin Tech AD Joe Gamache, who is on the football subcommittee, was one of those who felt five divisions was “not in the best interest of the sport.” 

“Right now we have a dying sport,” Gamache told the committee. “If we start cutting this down and giving kids less opportunities to compete, they’re going to stop playing.”

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