York County ice hockey teams won't play this season because of pandemic safety concerns

  • The Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League has canceled its 2020-2021 season.
  • The CPIHL said it couldn't "safely and effectively manage a season" during the pandemic.
  • Central York, Dallastown and Susquehannock were expected to compete in the CPIHL this season.
Central York's Benjamin Kasper follows the puck and shoots for a goal against West Shore goalie Mike Daily on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in a Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League contest. The 2020-2021 CPIHL season has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. John A. Pavoncello photo

York County basketball players, swimmers and wrestlers are about to begin their delayed high school seasons.

The same can’t be said, however, for local ice hockey players.

Ice hockey, unlike basketball, swimming and wrestling, is not a PIAA-sanctioned sport. Locally, high school ice hockey players compete on the club level in the Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League.

Monday, the CPIHL announced that the 2020-2021 season has been officially canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to CPIHL president Steve Aaron, three York County teams were expected to compete this season in the Viola Division: Central York, Dallastown and Susquehannock. Additionally, Aaron said some Northern York players likely would’ve played on the Keystone Kraken team. 

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CPIHL statement: The CPIHL released a statement Monday that read, in part: “This is an announcement we hoped could have been avoided, but the realities of the virus and its continued impact on our local hospitals, schools and communities cannot be overstated. As a league, we simply do not feel we can safely and effectively manage a season in this environment.

“The league, however, is working with our member clubs to help them be in contact with one another for those clubs interested in playing non-league-sanctioned scrimmages. 

“The members of the league Executive Committee wish to thank all of our clubs and ice hockey families for their patience and understanding – and for their valuable input. These are unprecedented times with no easy solutions. We look forward to resuming league competition next season!”

Last year, in the Viola Division regular season, Central York finished 10-8-0, while Dallastown was 8-9-1 and Susquehannock was 4-12-1. Central then made the playoffs, going 3-2-0.

The CPIHL typically begins in late October and runs into March. The 2020-2021 season never got started because of the pandemic.

Basketball, swimming, wrestling action set to begin: While the local high school ice hockey players have been idled, a number of Y-A programs are expected to start their basketball, wrestling and swimming seasons this weekend. The rest of the league is expected start game and meet action the following week.

After Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a three-week pause in practices and games for youth sports from Dec. 12 through Jan. 3, the local high school programs were permitted to resume practices on Monday, Jan 4. The PIAA required those programs have at least four practices before starting game or meet action, meaning the earliest any teams could start games or meets would be Friday, Jan. 8, but only if those programs had completed a total of 10 practices, both before and after the state pause. None of the Y-A teams had started game or meet action before the pause.

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Basketball players and wrestlers will be required to wear masks this season during both practices and game action. Swimmers, however, won’t have to wear masks during competition.

Additionally, attendance at Y-A events will be limited to home fans only and will be severely reduced, since the schools still have to abide by the strict state limits on indoor gatherings.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.