Members of the Maine Junior Black Bears Tier III Midget hockey team skate with their state championship banner after winnining the 2016 state championship. Governors from seven Northeastern states have extended a ban on interstate youth hockey through the end of January. BOB GRANGER PHOTO

Northeast governors extend interstate youth hockey suspension

AUGUSTA — Governors from seven Northeastern states have extended a directive prohibiting youth hockey teams from participating in interstate competition.

Governors Janet Mills, Charlie Baker (R-Mass.), Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.), Phil Scott (R-Vt.) and Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) announced the decision in a joint statement released last Wednesday. The move, which extends the ban on interstate play through the end of January, came a day before the existing suspension was set to expire.

“As public health data continues to evolve, the states will reassess the need for continued restrictions on interstate sports activities,” the governors said in the joint statement. “The prohibition will not impact interstate collegiate, professional or U.S. national team hockey activities, which will remain subject to existing health and safety protocols and/or restrictions.”

The initial suspension of interstate competition between teams from Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont was announced Nov. 12 and went into effect Nov. 14. It followed what the governors called “recent coronavirus outbreaks associated with the conduct of interstate youth hockey activities.”

Hockey in Maine has been in a state of flux throughout the fall and winter months. Games were suspended for two weeks during October after a referee who had officiated eight games tested positive for COVID-19, and many competitions were halted again from Nov. 6-Dec. 14 after an update to the state’s guidelines for community sports put a stop to club activities.

Games between opponents within Maine are still permitted under the state’s community sports guidelines. High school hockey teams in the state were eligible to begin team-based and intra-squad activities Monday.

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