TOMS RIVER, NJ – While most sports in New Jersey have resumed, one that has not is youth hockey. Now, New Jersey Senator Kristin Corrado and Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips are urging the Murphy Administration to loosen restrictions on indoor athletics and allow ice hockey games to resume.
“Ice Hockey is caught up in confusing COVID rules coming out of Trenton,” said Corrado (R-40). “The emphasis on public health is understandable, but the evidence indicates hockey games can be played with minimal risk. Players, coaches, officials and parents can all safely come to the rink for games and follow sensible precautions. If they consider the data, the Administration will see the competition ban on hockey in unwarranted.”
The state classifies ice hockey as a medium-risk sport for COVID transmission, along with soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, volleyball and others that have been cleared for outdoor practice and competition. Sports played indoors have been approved for non-contact practice, only. This effectively shuts down the ability for kids across New Jersey to actually play a game of Hockey. Hockey is an indoor sport, played in large, environmentally controlled facilities with outstanding ventilation systems necessary to maintain ice quality.
“With its unique circumstances, it’s not fair to compare hockey with other indoor sports,” said DePhillips (R-40). “During games, the players are spread out on the ice, and they are shielded from head to skates with protective equipment. Players don’t share equipment or touch the puck, and there is very little direct physical contact during a game. Like all of us, the sport is suffering because of the pandemic, but the ban on games is going too far.”
USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, states the risk of contracting COVID while playing hockey is minimal. The organization published detailed guidance for rink owners, leagues, teams and parents, including a series of resources for safely returning to rinks and mitigating risks.
“The goal here is to keep the players and their families safe, and USA Hockey has determined we can accomplish that and play hockey, too. It’s time to put the Governor’s restrictions on ice and let the games begin,” said Corrado, who will be meeting with a group of hockey parents next week.