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Committee approves return to 15-minute periods for state hockey tournament

Mark DiFilippo is upset.

The Williamsville East athletic director and Section VI boys ice hockey chairman is unhappy because a situation that he believes could have potentially been avoided wasn’t – resulting in the New York State Public High Schools Executive Committee making a decision that negatively impacts the postseason.

On Friday afternoon, the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee voted 11-10, with association president Paul Harrica casting the tie-breaking vote, to end the current format of games being divided into three 17-minute periods in favor of reverting back to the old format of three 15-minute periods with shorter penalty times (1:30 instead of 2:00) for the state tournament.

The state Final Four takes place at HarborCenter next month.

The rule would go into effect during the state tournament, allowing sections to play 17-minute periods with 2-minute minor penalties during sectionals. The potential also exists for the rule to remain in effect for the entire 2019-20 season due to Friday's vote.

The reason for the about face has nothing to do with coaches being against change. It’s apparently because of appearance and money.

While the format change was approved in 2017, it didn’t take effect then because the proposal failed to take in account officials who worked state tournament games wanting a slight pay increase. Games were being lengthened six minutes (longer if a contest went into overtime). The officials filed a grievance.

Currently an on-ice official earns about $103 per state playoff game, while an off-ice official earns half of that amount. Six officials work a playoff game – two on the ice, two in the penalty box/scorekeeper’s area and the two goal judges.

The rule change went into effect this season without addressing the officials’ demands.  A fact-finding committee sided with officials for a 13-percent raise, according to a New York State Sportswriters’ Association story.

The same story indicated that the Championship Advisory Committee (CAC) that comes up with the formula for paying officials during the state playoffs didn’t want to amend an existing contract for fear of setting a precedence that could come back to hurt the association. Instead, CAC made a recommendation of going back to the old 15-minute-game format with reduced penalty times by a 9-2 vote.

“It’s about procedure and process than the dollar amount,” DiFilippo said. “The dollar amount seems like something that could be fixed. ... We in Section VI renegotiated the contract and compensated the officials but that didn’t happen across the state.”

NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas had hoped to get the officials to agree to a compromise proposal with a 7.88 percent increase for this year with the potential for another bump next year. He got turned down, according to a Tweet from John Moriello of the NYS Sportswriters Association.

“The officials took a stand," DiFilippo said.

Zayas’ proposal, obviously short of the 13 percent, would have bumped an on-ice official to $111.76.

“We’re talking $6-7 a game per official,” DiFilippo said.

While the rule wouldn’t go into effect until the state tournament, it could remain in place for next year unless the state ice hockey committee can come up with another proposal that changes things up that makes everyone involved happy.

But reverting back to the way things used to be?

“We’re very opposed to this situation,” DiFilippo said. “It’s something that shouldn’t have gotten to this point.”

“It was a step forward when we did it and now it’s two steps back,” Williamsville North coach Bob Rosen said. “It changes things dramatically. ... The rule-change benefited teams with depth. I thought 17-minute periods were beneficial in you needed more players to have success. It doesn’t sound like a lot but those six minutes change the complexion of games for sure.”

In other items of note to come out of the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting in Saratoga Springs:

-- The executive committee voted in favor of the state boys basketball final four returning to Glens Falls effective 2020 through 2022.

-- The proposal to add at-large football teams to the state tournament bracket as a way of eliminating byes into the semifinals was discussed and will be voted upon during the committee’s meeting in May.

-- The committee also approved the bid for Moriches Athletic Complex in Brookhaven of Section XI to host the state softball final four from 2020-22.

Hutchins a Mr. Basktball nominee

The Basketball Coaches Association of New York unveiled its candidates for the state’s Mr. Basketball honor.

The list includes senior and 2018 first team All-Western New York selection Noah Hutchins of Park, Albany Academy’s August Mahoney, Glen Anderson of Brooklyn Collegiate, Lawrence Woodmere Academy’s Aidan Igiehon, Cardinal Hayes’ Joe Toussaint, Glens Falls Joe Girard and Our Savior Lutheran’s Dashawn Davis.

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