The biggest Cape and Islands League hockey game of the season so far will have to wait until later in the season. One day before reigning co-champions Falmouth and Sandwich were set to face off for first place in the league standings, the Clippers were forced to put their season on a two-week pause, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Falmouth and Sandwich tied for the league title a year ago. Falmouth won last year’s league tournament title, but the Knights were unable to compete for the championship because their season was shut down just prior to the start of the tourney.
Both teams have been playing very well this season and have seemed on a collision course to scuffle for the championship again. Falmouth, following a 7-1 rout of Dedham on Saturday, January 8,improved to 7-0-1 on the season. Sandwich had a four-game winning streak ended by Hopedale/Milford on Saturday at Gallo Ice Arena, 3-1. SHS is currently 5-3-1 overall. Both squads are 1-0 in Cape and Islands action thus far.
“The whole thing is a shame. I feel for our kids. This is three years in a row where their season has been affected,” Coach Paul Moore said. “We’ve just got to wait it out and get back on the ice.”
The boys’ hockey team is not the first Falmouth winter sports team that has had to deal with players being out due to COVID protocols this season. Based on the test-and-stay policy, the other teams have all stayed under the threshold in order to continue practicing and playing. The boys’ hockey team had its numbers rise this week, forcing the shutdown. On Tuesday, when the shutdown was announced, the decision had been made by administration to pause the team’s activities for two weeks. That decision was walked back on Wednesday, January 12, and now the team will be out of action for five days, resuming practice this Sunday and returning to the ice for a game against Catholic Memorial on Monday afternoon.
The team will not have all of its players back for Monday, but enough to play a varsity level game with a few fill-ins from the junior varsity squad. CM is reportedly in a similar situation, with some call-ups needed for a full squad.
A makeup date for the big game between FHS and SHS has not yet been determined. The teams are scheduled to play against one another at Gallo Ice Arena, for the Sandwich home game of the two-game set, on Wednesday, February 2, at 6 PM.
“I’ve got 22 kids at the rink that are really disappointed because they were looking forward to playing this game,” Sandwich Coach Jordan Mohre said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that skate together in the summer, and play on teams together, and they’ve got that familiarity and the rivalry is there. We were looking forward to going there and playing them.”
Initially FHS would have missed five games had the full two-week pause been enforced. Now the Clippers will have to reschedule just two games, with Sandwich and Natick, the team that they were supposed to play on Saturday.
Sandwich’s season will continue this weekend. The Knights will host Grafton/Blackstone Valley Tech at Gallo on Saturday, January 15, at 6:30 PM and return to league play with a game at Barnstable on January 19.
Grafton/BVT is just coming back from its own pause to the season, and Saturday will be its first game since December 30.
“In reality it is going to be tough to reschedule everything that gets postponed unless the MIAA extends the end of the season dates,” Mohre said. “You just have to play when you can and hope the shutdowns stop at some point.”