By Pat Murphy
Special to The Conway Daily Sun
CONWAY — The 2020-21 local hockey season got underway in mid-August with the Mt. Washington Valley Youth Hockey's North Conway Nordiques 18U/16U program taking the ice at Chalmers Ice Arena on the campus of Bridgton Academy in Bridgton, Maine, while Ham Arena undergoes repair work.
Unlike previous years when the team skated in the Granite State League, the Nordiques will be operating independently this year, alternating between skills sessions and Red/Blue intersquad games each Sunday night.
"Due to the (COVID-19) pandemic, we decided that it would be better for the kids and their families to stay local and skate amongst themselves" said Pat Murphy, head coach of the Nordiques. “We are following USA Hockey's recommendations for playing in this situation along with the guidelines set by Bridgton Academy.”
Murphy said the games will not be typical scrimmages as the Nordiques are following the playbook of the highly competitive "Wednesday Night Game" Men's League that runs each winter at Ham Arena.
Teams will be chosen prior to each game, the games will be officiated and standings will be kept individually with awards given out to the leaders at the end of the seven game season.
Following three weeks of skills sessions, senior Will Galligan of Fryeburg Academy scored three goals to lead Team Red to a 5-1 win over Team Blue in the opening game this past Sunday.
"We don't know what high school hockey will look like this year, but we're doing our best to give the players the opportunity to develop their skills, play competitively and be ready when the time comes,” said Murphy, who will be joined by veteran MWVYHA coaches Peter Moore and Vinny Furtado along with former Kennett and Assumption College captain Kevin Murphy on the coaching staff.
This year's Nordiques roster is made up of students from six area high schools and there are a few limited openings to join the team this fall. For more information, go to mwvyha.org.
On the Mt. Washington Valley Youth Hockey Association’s website, the “new normal at the Ham Arena (the association’s home arena),” is:
• Masks are required to enter the build. They should remain on until you get to the bench.
• Doors will be locked until 15 minutes prior to your ice time.
• A staff member will take everyone's temperature (it must be 100.3 degrees or less).
• You will also be asked the following questions: are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat? Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please do not put our employees and other members at risk and come back another day when you feel better. If you answered no, please remember to maintain proper social distancing for duration of your visit.
• You must maintain six feet of social distancing.
• We prefer you come into the building dressed (please dress at home or in the parking lot/car).
• Locker rooms limited to seven people to maintain social distancing.
• Locker room use will be staggered in order for disinfecting between sessions.
• Three locker rooms available for each session.
• Locker room bathrooms are open but showers are closed.
• Seating in lobby and behind home and away bench's are available to put on your skates.
• Under age players/skaters are allowed one parent in the building (siblings are allowed but must stay with parent at all times).
• When your ice session is over you have 10 minutes to vacate the building.
• Appointments are necessary for Pro Shop and skate sharpenings.
• Please follow all arrows and signs.
• Staff will disinfect lobby, used locker rooms, bathrooms and bleachers after each ice session.”
Pat Murphy is the Sun's senior hockey columnist.