The Connecticut Hockey Conference is the governing body for USA Hockey in Connecticut
 
 
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Updated: Sept 17, 2021

 

Clarification on scope of facemask policy

Sept 17, 2021

The wording in the CHC facemask policy can be confusing. The policy states "all individuals and participants inside facilities hosting CHC sanctioned events" must wear a mask. From an officiating perspective, this should be interpreted as to apply to all USA Hockey sanctioned games in CT, whether they are CHC league games or not. The CHC is the affiliate for USA Hockey in CT. As such, for games in CT, being CHC sanctioned also means being USA Hockey sanctioned. This includes AYHL and USPHL (only 18U and below) games in CT. USPHL junior teams are exempt since they are not sanctioned by USA Hockey. 


Facemask enforcement, abuse, and health risks

Sept 17, 2021

The wearing of face masks has become a flashpoint topic. The CHC is trying to demonstrate to the CT Department of Public Health that they are doing all they can to protect all participants. Hence, the mask policy. Some teams, organizations, and rinks have refused to comply, making the officials' jobs very difficult.

The guidance on enforcing the face mask policy when there is non-compliance is as follows:
Inform the coaches of the policy and ask that the entire team comply. If they refuse, or if the official(s) feel threatened or are threatened, by any coaches, players, or spectators, then there is a choice to be made. Official(s) can refuse to work the game, or can note the non-compliance on the scoresheet and stay and work the game. Officials are not to be put in harms way for enforcing the policy. Either way, an email is to be sent to the RIC with a brief description of the situation and the game date, time, location, teams, and officiating partner(s). The note will pass that along to the CHC and they can determine the appropriate disciplinary actions for the team or organization. 

OFFICIALS DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION TO NOT TO ENFORCE THE POLICY. This is something that the CHC has asked the officiating staff to do. We will do so until they tell us otherwise.
AT THIS TIME, OFFICIALS DO NOT HAVE THE CHOICE TO NOT WEAR A MASK. The officiating staff will lead by example and comply with the policy. If officials cannot bring themselves to wear a mask, then they should not accept the assignments. Officials worked with masks and eWhistles last season and can do it this season if we have to. If this changes in the future, the officiating staff will be notified.

The CHC policy is here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.leagueathletics.com/Images/Club/2695/Misc/COVID_Guidelines_Requirements.pdf
Please note that there are four options for players and face coverings. The Bauer Concept III with Splash Guard is permissable for those players that do not want to wear a mask that sits directly on the nose and mouth.There are no medical exemptions from wearing one of the four options in the policy. Officials can choose to use an eWhistle and use one of the four options for head gear if they so desire. 


Sept 2 update to the CHC COVID policy 

Sept 2, 2021

The CHC has published a revised COVID policy. It has been sent to all CHC member organizations and will be published soon on the COVID Info page on this CHC web site.

Highlights

  • Documentation that the Game On face masks and neck gaiters are acceptable for this coming season
  • The addition of the Bauer Concept III Splash Guard as an acceptable face covering
  • Clarification that all players, coaches and on-ice officials must wear one of four types of face coverings
  • Removal of the monetary fines for non-compliance

The CHC legal counsel has advised that with the addition of the Bauer Splash Guard, there is no need for a medical exemption from wearing face coverings for those with exercise induced asthma. The solution for them is a full shield with the Bauer Splash Guard. If a player shows up with a wire cage and no face mask and a medical exemption note, he/she cannot be allowed to play. This is per CHC policy. If challenged on this, politely direct the challenger to their organization's president or CHC representative for escalation.


COVID information to start the 2021-2022 season 

Aug 27, 2021

The CHC spent a lot of time working with the CT Rink Owners Assocation (CROA) and the CT Dept of Public Health (DPH) crafting COVID policies that will ensure the safety of all participants and help avert another shutdown like we experienced last season.

The most up to date policies can be found on the COVID Info page on this CHC web site.

Summary

  • All participants in all USA Hockey games played in CT are required to wear face coverings while in a CT rink. This is regardless of the league or the teams. If the town or the rink does not have a mask mandate, the CHC policy is in effect and masks must be worn.
  • Officials will use the same rules as the previous season for enforcing the proper wearing of face coverings. We will treat this an equipment violation. (Updated Sept 2, 2021) Note that the CHC policy identifies monetary fines and potential disqualification from tournament play for repeat violations. If you assess a penalty for not wearing a face covering, make sure it is noted as such on the scoresheet.
  • Differentiate between players and coaches making good faith efforts to wear the face covering and those that are blatantly not wearing them or not wearing them correctly. For the former group, ask them to reposition the mask before faceoffs. For the latter group, issue a warning, send them to the bench, then penalize as appropriate - just as for a mouthpiece violation.
  • Officials must wear face coverings at all times and cannot lower them to blow the whistle. A finger whistle can be used if it can be blown through the face covering. Electronic whistles are encouraged again this season. Officials failing to adhere to the CHC mask mandate will have games taken away and/or be suspended. 
  • CCM Game On masks are legal for use. This is a welcome change from last season. References in the sections below to not being able to wear the Game One mask have been stricken through but are being maintained as a record of activity.
  • Policies regarding "close contact" as it applies to hockey are the same as they were last year
  • A fully vaccinated participant who is exposed to an infected participant does not have to quarantine.
  • As of this writing, there are still no medical exemptions for exercise induced asthma. (Updated Sept 2, 2021) The CHC is waiting for an opinion by their general counsel. Until then no exemptions. If this policy changes, it will be posted here and you will be notified.

 


CT DPH Memo on "close contact" for hockey officials

Feb 28, 2021

The CT Department of Public Health today issued new guidance on the requirement of "close contact" for hockey officials when determining whether quarantining is required after possible COVID exposure during a game.

Summary

If you work a game and any of the participants has a positive COVID diagnosis within 48 hours after game completion, you will be required to quarantine from hockey for a period of at least 14 days unless you are two weeks or more removed from being fully vaccinated. Close contact is no longer a factor. The quarantine for school, work, or other social and non-athletic events may end after 10 days per the shortened quarantine guidelines identified by the state.

You will be notified if you have worked a game after which there was a positive COVID diagnosis. You will not be given the discretion about quarantining based on whether you had close contact with any of the participants.


Hockey restart adjustments  

Jan 26, 2021

The Connecticut Rink Owners Association has issued Step 2 rules and guidelines for when game play resume on/after Feb 1st. Those guidelines should be published soon on the COVID page of the CHC web site. The following list is a distillation of the Step 2 rules and guidelines as they apply to officials. Please note and adhere to the following:

  1. Locker rooms will be available and you may bring your equipment bag into the facility. Maintain 6ft social distancing in the locker room. SafeSport protocols are still in effect so don't forget about those.

  2. There are no time restrictions on how early officials may enter the facility or how soon after the game the officials must exit. Standard practice is for officials to arrive 30 mins prior to scheduled game time.

  3. With constraints on how soon before a game players can enter the facility, officials are encouraged to do their best to keep the games running on schedule. As a reminder from last season, it is up to the home team or the rink staff to inform the officials prior to the start of the game or the start of the third period whether period lengths should be adjusted. Officials are not to cut period lengths unless requested to do so.

  4. Bring your own water. Players will have their own personal water bottles. Do not drink out of them and do not ask to drink out of them - including the goalkeepers. Plan on the water fountains not working at the rinks.

  5. Inactive players are not allowed on the player's bench. This is a change from the USA Hockey rule. For a first violation, give the team a warning. For subsequent violations assess a bench minor and then follow the refusal to start play protocol if a team refuses to comply.

  6. Due to HIPAA privacy constraints, challenges on the eligibility of a player because he/she should be quarantining should never be brought to an on-ice official. If such a challenge is made, tell the challenger to escalate through their player safety coordinator, and play on. The on-ice officials are not quarantine police. 

  7. Spectators are allowed, within capacity constraints, for USA Hockey games starting Feb 1. There are to be no spectators in February only for CIAC games. Officials are not spectator police and are not to enforce capacity limits. That is up to the rink staff.

  8. There is to be no spitting on the ice by any player or coach. If this occurs during a game, issue a warning to the bench then penalize subsequent actions with a bench minor or a minor penalty. Note that spitting on the ice is very different than spitting towards an opponent, which should be penalized with a match penalty under 601-f-3.

  9. (Updated Aug 27, 2021) Facemask guidance has not changed since December. See the sections below from Dec 15 and Dec 16 for details.

  10. No handshakes at the conclusion of a game.

  11. Officials are required to wear CT DPH and CDC compliant face coverings and use electronic whistles. No exceptions.

 

Failure to follow and adhere to the CROA rules and guidelines will put the possibility of an end-of-season state tournament at risk. As always, let's have the officiating staff lead by example.


Hockey restart and update from the CT DPH  

Jan 18, 2021

The following was communicated to the CHC from the CT Dept of Public Health Command Center.  

  1. The sports pause remains in place until Tuesday, January 19th

  2. Any practice/tryout activities should not be happening until that time

  3. Activities out-of-state are not allowed during the current pause and will still not be allowed under the rules that will be in place after January 19th

  4. No games are allowed before February 1st

  5. Violating the sports on pause or other sector rules can carry fines both for the club participants/organizers and facility operators, and the suspension of activities to be enforced by both local health departments and the CT Hockey Conference.‚Äč

We continue to get daily complaints from parents and club organizers about rinks and other clubs not following the rules in place.

 

When games resume on Feb 1 let's make sure officials are leading by example and adhering to all the local, state, and federal rules and protocols.


Use of Attached and Non-Attached Face Coverings  

Dec 16, 2020

The question was asked whether a face covering that attaches to the helmet or cage can be worn in addition to an on-face, CDC compliant face covering. Since the CCM Game On covering and the Bauer Concept III Splash Guard are both HECC certified and do not invalidate the HECC certification of either the helmet or the facemask, they can indeed be legally worn. (Updated Aug 27, 2021) This does not absolve the player from the requirement to wear a non-attached face covering per CT DPH guidance. The wearing of CCM or Bauer products without a non-attached face covering will be subject to the rules enforcement in the CHC COVID guidance documents.

This is not expected to happen very often because double masking will make it harder to breath. Nonetheless, officials need to be prepared for this situation.


Update on Facemasks and Medical Exemptions 

Dec 15, 2020

(Updated Aug 27, 2021) At this past Tuesday’s CHC meeting, the CHC presented correspondence from the CT DPH confirming that any face covering that attaches to the helmet, cage or full face shield is not approved for use as a compliant face covering. This reaffirms that the CCM Game On face covering is not to be worn to satisfy the state's face covering requirement. This also applies to officials. The version of the CCM Game On for visors that attaches to the helmet through the ear protectors is not approved.

The CT DPH also provided guidance that there are to be no medical exemptions to wearing a face covering. All participants must wear compliant face coverings at all times. The guidance below from Nov 17 has been revised.

The CHC will update documentation on the COVID section of the web site to reflect the guidance from the CT DPH. It is recommended that you print these policies and keep at least one copy with you in case situations arise in which you need to reference them. 

As a reminder, officials are required to wear face coverings at all times during the game, not just during faceoffs. Officials are also required to use an e-whistle as their primary whistle.


State Shuts Down Hockey 

Nov 19, 2020

Effective Monday, Nov 23 all activities for all non-professional and non-collegiate sports will shut down until Jan 19. The governor annnounced the shutdown in his COVID briefing on Nov 19 (link below). That part of the briefing starts at the 6:20 mark. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1-0jzNe610


CHC Update on Face Masks

Nov 17, 2020

(Updated Aug 27, 2021) At this past Tuesday’s CHC meeting, CHC member programs were told in no uncertain terms that the face coverings that attach to the helmet, cage, or shield do not meet CT Dept of Health mandates and CDC guidelines. Neither the Bauer nor CCM products are approved for use in games, (updated Dec 16) with the exception of a documented medical condition. Players that are wearing only these products as face coverings shall be sent off the ice and asked to wear the “street masks” that they wore when entering the facility.


HECC Approved Spit/Splash Guards and Face Masks for Players

Nov 16, 2020

Today the HECC approved a set of spit/splash guards and face masks that do not invalidate HECC certification for helmets, cages, or shields. Both the Bauer Concept III Splash Guard and the CCM Game On face mask are on the list. (Updated Nov 17) This is welcomed news from parents, players and officials alike.

http://www.hecc.org/certsplashguards.html


Spit/Splash Guard and Face Masks for Players

Nov 13, 2020

(Updated Nov 16) At a national meeting of district RICs on Nov 12, it was confirmed that a spit/splash guard attachment to a player's helmet, such as the Bauer Concept III Splash Guard, invalidates the HECC certification of a helmet unless it is reviewed and approved by the manufacturer and certified by HECC. No spit/splash guards have yet received such certification. USA Hockey's position on spit/splash guards is contained in this document. The document links out to the HECC statement on spit/splash guards and the certified equipment list. At the end of the communication from USA Hockey they state that a cloth mask that is not attached to the helmet does not affect the HECC certification. At this time, the only acceptable face mask for players is a cloth covering that is not attached to the helmet, cage, or full shield. (updated Nov 16) When/If some spit guards become HECC certified, the link above will be updated. This information was sent to all CHC member programs the morning of Nov 13.

This may be problematic for players with asthma, but at this time, those are the rules to be followed. If you receive push-back on this at any of your games, send them my way.

 


CHC COVID Guidance

Nov 11, 2020
The CHC has released it's guidance for COVID based on the governors's briefing from Nov 5 and the CT Dept of Public Health's updated sector rules for sports and fitness facilities from Nov 9. This guidance is effective immediately.

What it means to you:
(1) All officials must wear a face mask at all times during games - not just during face-offs. No exceptions. If you don't already have one, find a face mask that meets the CDC recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html)

(2) Players and coaches must wear face masks at all times during games. There is a section on rules and enforcement that you must become familiar with. I will send a follow-up email with what rule to reference if you have to penalize under these guidelines

(3) As in seasons past, we have encouraged you to have a brief conversation with the coaches asking if players are properly equipped. That guidance does not change. Since we cannot see mouthpieces underneath face masks, it is now important to have that brief conversation and ask that question during the pre-game.

CHC COVID Cover Letter - Nov 11
https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.leagueathletics.com/Images/Club/2695/Misc/CHC%20COVID%20Cover%20Nov%2011%202020%20.pdf


CHC COVID Guidance - Nov 11
https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.leagueathletics.com/Images/Club/2695/Misc/CHC%20COVID%20Guidance%20Nov%2011%202020%20.pdf


CT Dept of Public Health Updated Guidance for the Operation of Interscholastic, Youth and other Amateur Sport Activities during the COVID-19 Pandemic
https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Communications/Guidance/General-Guidance-for-Youth-and--Amateur-Sport-Activities-during-COVID-19-Pandemic


 

New England District status and officiating recommendations

Oct 18, 2020

Maine and New Hampshire have experienced total hockey shutdowns due to COVID. Maine was shut down for the previous two weekends and NH was shut down this past Thursday and will remain so for two weeks. These shutdowns have been driven by the states, each of which have more prescriptive COVID guidelines than Connecticut. Vermont is up and running, with coaches and players required to wear facemasks during game play. It is expected that officials will be required to wear facemasks during game play in VT as of the beginning of Nov. Connecticut seems to be the least restrictive of the New England District states. We are, as Chuck Wilkerson the CHC president said, open for business. However, Chuck did express that with the rising COVID rates in certain parts of the state, we may not be open for business for long without some concerted effort to minimize exposure and spread. My hope is that the state of CT will follow the lead of other New England states and become more engaged and more prescriptive with COVID related policies for youth sports. Lacking that, we will remain in this state of limbo where there are recommendations and suggestions but no clear cut mandates. 

In order to help prevent the shutdown of hockey in CT, and until there are mandates from the state, here are two highly encouraged recommendations.

1. Use an electronic whistle whether or not you wear a face mask. When we blow the whistle, respiratory droplets are propelled at high velocity out of the whistle and into the air. If there are players, coaches, or other oficials in the vicinity then that increases their risk of exposure (see my email from Oct 11 for more info regarding close contact).  E-whistles eliminate that vector. Contact me if you need help or information on acquiring an e-whistle.

2. Wear a mask. Hockey officiating is an aerobic activity and we know it is hard to breathe through a mask when hustling up and down the ice. Vermont officials have found that if they wear a neck gaiter then they can pull the gaiter up for faceoffs, pull it down during play, and pull it up again when play is stopped. The neck gaiter is a hybrid solution that will allow you to breathe during play and protect your partner and all other participants during stoppages.

We all want hockey to continue. If the officiating community in CT doesn't do their part to prevent the spread of COVID, we contribute to the risk of hockey being shut down for the entire state. Please do YOUR part.


Dealing with COVID symptoms and exposures

Oct 11, 2020

The following guidance should help you with the actions you need to take in dealing with COVID symptoms or COVID exposures.

 

  • The key to the guidance is the definition of “close contact”. The CT Dept of Health and the CDC identify close contact as being within 6 feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a period of 15 mins or more, direct physical contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, or having direct exposure to respiratory droplets of someone diagnosed with COVID-19

 

  • USA Hockey’s email from Oct 7 provides information on how much time players are within a six foot radius of another player while on the ice (less than three minutes per game). Extrapolating that to officials, the exposure time would also likely be less than three minutes for any individual player.

 

  • An official can combine the CT guidance document with the data from USA Hockey to determine whether he/she has come in close contact with a player who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

 

  • Please note that other states may have differing guidelines or interpretations of close contact. The guidance document applies only to CT.

 

  • If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID, please contact your local officiating organization's president and scheduler to make the necessary schedule adjustments and to initiate notification to any affected parties. 

 


Officiating Safely in CT

Sept 1, 2020

  • Follow CDC & WHO guidelines for wearing masks & social distancing

  • Rinks implement policies & procedures compliant with state’s sector rules (Go to CT Phase 2 Sector Reopening then click on Sports and fitness facilities)

On-Ice Mechanics, Policies & Procedures

  • Pre-game “chat” with coaches is now a pre-game drive-by wave
  • No post-game handshakes - make sure both benches know this before the end of the game
  • Positioning along players benches - work the golden rectangle laterally to create distance between you and the players bench
  • Drops - there is flexibility in puck retrievals this year. You may use the procedure where the official that fetches the puck drops it. BE SURE you are both doing it consistently and BE SURE you spot the faceoff for the teams
  • Electronic whistles - highly recommended. Use them if you use a facemask.
  • Facemasks & gloves - Facemasks are highly recommended. Do not use gloves. See https://www.usahockey.com/officiatingcovidfaqs.
  • Fetching mouthpieces - there is no expectation that officials will fetch lost mouthpieces on the ice.
  • Spitting - all CHC organizations have been asked to prevent players and coaches from spitting on the ice. Officials are held to that same standard.

The CHC published this additional guidance to member programs in June.

The State shutdown the rinks/facilities (not CHC, not USA Hockey). The State has provided the process to re-open. Therefore:

  • Rinks/Facilities have 100% control & responsibility for all activities on their properties.  

  • CHC Member Programs/Associations must contact their respective rink management for all questions and guidance regarding COVID policies, procedures, best practices, etc., and what activities the rink/facility will allow.

  • Families/players must contact their CHC Member Program/Association leadership for all questions and guidance regarding rink COVID policies, procedures, best practices, etc., and what activities the rink/facility will allow.

  • The CHC expects that all ice rinks/facilities, leagues and Member Programs/Associations will abide by all mandates and restriction from the State of Connecticut, including those communicated by the Governor through Executive Orders/Sector Rules. CHC cannot respond to each and every instance of an actual or perceived violation, but reaffirms that it does not sanction activities that are conducted contrary to these mandates. Parents should not hesitate to question their local association representatives should they become aware of any activities that may be in violation of any mandate and report any violations of State mandates to the appropriate State Government authorities. The CHC is committed to providing a safe environment for its participants/spectators consistent with all applicable mandates and best practices. 

The onus of understanding how each individual rink's policies and procedures impacts the officials lies with the officials. Some rinks may not have changing rooms and showers available. Some may limit how soon before a game participants can arrive. Some may have mask policies that differ from other rinks. Please check with either the rink or your local officiating organization to determine if there are special policies that will affect how to prepare for a game.