The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced the indefinite postponement of the winter sports state championships Thursday afternoon, casting the basketball, ice hockey and bowling finals in doubt.
The organization released a statement saying: “The NYSPHSAA winter regional and state championships will be postponed indefinitely. It is certainly understood that postponing the remaining winter state championships is disappointing, however the opportunity to participate in a NYSPHSAA championship event does not outweigh our responsibility and obligation to ensure students participate in a healthy and safe environment.”
Affected north country teams included the Massena boys hockey team, which was scheduled to play in the state final four in Buffalo this weekend. The Red Raiders had a semifinal game slated against Section 2’s Bethlehem on Saturday.
The Lowville boys and South Jefferson girls basketball teams were slated to play state Class B quarterfinal games in Binghamton on Sunday. The Madrid-Waddington boys and St. Lawrence Central girls basketball teams were scheduled to play state Class C quarterfinal games Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. The Chateaugay boys and Hammond girls were slated to play state Class D quarterfinal games Saturday at SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College.
NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said, “It was my goal to complete the winter championships on schedule. It has become increasingly more difficult to host these championship events with the number of challenges that have been presented. I also have concerns as the Executive Director of NYSPHSAA and a parent, that students will be participating in an event under circumstances that are not conducive to a quality and beneficial participation experience.”
No decision has been made on whether the state championships will resume at some later date, nor has the NYSPHSAA discussed spring sports.
NCAA MEN’S HOCKEY TOURNEY OFF
ECAC Hockey released a statement Thursday afternoon announcing the cancellation of the rest of the men’s hockey tournament and later in the day the NCAA also announced the cancellation of all of its winter championship events, ending the season for both the Clarkson men’s and women’s teams.
As of Thursday morning, two of the eight remaining teams had forfeited their seasons: Harvard and Yale. Rensselaer, which was supposed to host Colgate in a quarterfinal series this weekend, also canceled its season early Thursday afternoon.
“This decision has been made in accordance with recommendations from public health and medical professionals in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation,” the statement said. “We are deeply disappointed our programs will not have the opportunity to compete for a league championship, however ceasing championship competition is in the best interest of everyone.”
“It’s something out of our control,” Clarkson men’s coach Casey Jones said. “The safety of the players and fans is first and foremost. I feel for the effort the guys put in. We trust people are making the best decisions for everybody at stake.
“Our guys would do anything to play another game, but there is a lot of concerns and we want to make sure we are safe. It’s very hard if this is the ending for these guys after all their hard work. You feel for the players in all the sports.”
Canton native Greg Carvel, whose University of Massachusetts men’s hockey team was scheduled to play Northeastern in a Hockey East tournament series issued a tweet saying he was “devastated.”
“I’m absolutely devastated right now,” said Carvel, whose team played in the NCAA championship last season. “I feel for everyone in our program. The sacrifices that are made year round to earn the right to play at this time of year can not be minimized. I was so excited for this group to make another NCAA run. But life goes on and I am grateful.”
The Clarkson women were scheduled to play an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal game at Wisconsin on Saturday night in an arena without fans before the NCAA announced its decision to cancel the tournament.
St. Lawrence University skiers Riley Whitney and Lucy Hochschartner saw their NCAA Championships weekend end after one day as the NCAA called off the event. The two skiers competed in the first day of the alpine and Nordic championships Thursday at Bozeman, Montana.
WOLVES SUSPEND SEASON
The Watertown Wolves announced Thursday night that operations will be suspended beginning today until further notice as part of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Watertown Wolves regret to announce that effective (today), operations will be suspended until further notice,” the release stated.
The Wolves played its game at Elmira on Thursday night as scheduled.
Other FPHL teams announced suspending operations as well.
Earlier, the Wolves announced that it would play their game against the Elmira Enforcers but that no fans would be allowed into First Arena in Elmira.
The Wolves, who have 12 games left in the regular season, were scheduled to play at Danbury today and Saturday and then face Danbury on Sunday at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena for a Family Night game.
The league said in a release that its board has met multiple times this week and in the interest of safety have made this decision in line with numerous other professional and junior hockey leagues across North America.
“The FPHL, its member teams, its Board of Governors and everyone involved takes the health and safety of our fans, officials and players extremely seriously,” FPHL commissioner Don Kirnan said in a release. “This is done out of a concern for safety and following suit with the NHL and the recommendations they and many other professional leagues have gotten, it is in our best interest to also go into a suspended state.”
Kirnan, who also owns the Watertown Wolves, continued:
“Our Board of Governors will continue to meet and monitor the situation. While highly unlikely, its possible we can resume play next week if the situation drastically improves, but in the more likely case this pandemic will continue as the weeks go on, discussions will have to be had internally within the league about where to go from here.”