If offseason baseball is hot-stove baseball, what is summer hockey talk? Anyway, as you’ve probably seen, I’ve put up preliminary schedules for the 2008-09 season based on schedules I’ve found online and schedules that have been sent to me. A few notes:
1. I just came across this interesting NJSIAA provision and found it interesting enough to move up to No. 1 on my offseason hit list. According to that rule, teams may now play 17-minute periods in out-of-state contests to comply with local rules. Fine. But check out the wording for the second change: “Section 1: Article 3: There shall be no overtime periods, except in playoffs, regular season tournaments, or when playing out of state. Rationale for addition: NJSIAA schools playing in regular season tournaments that require teams to advance need a method to determine a winner. CL: Overtime will only be permitted during the regular season when playing out of state for purposes of complying with host state rules.”
WHAT are they talking about? You can’t make a rule that says overtime periods are allowed in regular season tournaments OR when playing out of state, then clarify that it only applies to out-of-state tournaments. If that’s the case, write the rule that way in the first place! They actually got the rule right the first time – allowing overtime for regular-season tournaments, which anyone will tell you provides some really fun moments – then “clarified” themselves into (a) an inherent contradiction and (b) a poor decision, in my opinion. They provided the rationale – teams need a method to determine a winner – but then decided that it doesn’t need to apply to tournaments held in New Jersey? I could go on and on (they didn’t mention shootouts at all), but the bottom line is, the NJSIAA just does not seem on the ball (or puck) when it comes to hockey.
Okay, back to more standard and less controversial observations.
2. Based on current schedules, CBA has moved from the Gordon Conference to Shore A. However, I’m hearing there is still a chance CBA could find a creative solution to its dilemma. If the Shore is determined to have its way, I feel like it makes the most sense for CBA to play there and just schedule aggressively out of league. But we’ll see what comes of it.
3. I have confirmed that the five Freehold Regional High School District schools are all starting their hockey programs at the varsity level this year and will be in their own Shore Conference division. I took the liberty of referring to it as Shore C – still waiting on official word from the Shore Conference.
4. I cannot figure out what is going on with the Woodbridge Township School District schools. Colonia, JFK Iselin, and Woodbridge have scheduled games with the varsity squads from the Freehold schools, East Side, St. Rose, and some other lower-level teams, but they claim to be playing at the JV level. I think at this point, they might as well go ahead and make it official as varsity squads, if only because it would make my life easier!
5. I have calculated Public A and Public B splits for the season, based on the Woodbridge schools as varsity schools, which gives us 106 varsity public schools, with 53 in each group. I found four changes from last year, namely Paramus, Wayne Valley, and Mount Olive dropping to Public B, and WWPN and Newton (now a co-op with Lenape Valley) moving up to Public A. The cutoff currently falls between Middletown South (1,045) and Wayne Valley (1,041). These could change if the Woodbridge schools are classified asjunior varsity. Of course, the NJSIAA had them listed as varsity teams part of last year, too.
6. I’ve talked with East Side coach Keith Veltre, and he informed me that the Red Raiders (and Hockey in Newark, in general) have been taking advantage of the year-round ice afforded by the Prudential Center, and East Side will play home games at the Prudential Center’s practice rink, which looks pretty cool from the photos on the website. If I’m lucky, I’ll get enough time at home to see an East Side game followed by a Devils game at the new digs.
7. Seven Union County teams broke away from the NJIHL to form their own conference, to be named the Mountain Valley Ice Hockey Conference. From what I hear, there was just too much travel involved (Haddonfield is not particularly close to Union County), so it will be interesting to see how the league fares and if this sets a precedent. I’m banking on a 12-game league schedule, but I have not yet heard details. This also eliminates the Central White, which sets up some interesting divisions elsewhere in the NJIHL.
8. A couple of rink changes in addition to East Side … Fair Lawn appears to be playing out of Floyd Hall this year; Nutley may still be splitting time between Floyd Hall and South Mountain; Montgomery has solidified its spot at Protec Ponds, somewhere I still haven’t been; the CVC is amping up its usage of Lawrenceville as a second and third rink; and Wall is going to be a ridiculously busy place with the five Freehold schools playing there.
9. Robbinsville remained the smallest hockey-playing school in the state, but just barely, with an enrolment of 469 compared to defending Public B champion Kinnelon’s 487.