New Jersey's 25th Legislative District

Senator Anthony M. Bucco

Senator Anthony M. Bucco

Bucco to Governor: It’s Time to Drop the Puck and Let Youth Hockey Games Resume

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Governor Murphy’s executive orders have placed youth and amateur hockey games on ice since the pandemic began, and Senator Anthony M. Bucco said it’s time to take another look at restrictions that are having a devastating effect on the sport and the ice rinks that depend on it.

Senator Bucco today called on the Governor to reconsider restrictions that are having a devastating effect on the sport of hockey and the ice rinks that depend on it. (Pixabay)

“Hockey is a popular participation sport in New Jersey, and the players have been more than patient with guidelines intended to keep everybody safe,” said Bucco. “But with the resumption of so many other sports, it is starting to feel like hockey has been stuck in the penalty box. We are in a position now where we have the knowledge and precautions that will allow the return to safe competition.”

USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, reasons 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.

“Hockey should not be perceived as having any more COVID risk than other similarly classified sports like volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, softball and baseball, and they have all been cleared to resume games,” said Bucco. “The state should capitalize on USA Hockey’s extensive experience and broad influence to confidently allow live competition to resume with appropriate precautions in place.”

In July, Governor Murphy issued an executive order allowing the resumption of outdoor practices and games for medium-risk sports, and non-contact practices in indoor settings.

“The state’s guidelines fail to consider the unique characteristics of hockey and the controlled environments of the ice rinks,” Bucco noted. “Hockey facilities are designed to maintain appropriate ice conditions, with outstanding ventilation systems and air circulation. The conditions are not that different than being outside. In addition, players are covered from head to toe with protective equipment, and the games take place on a large playing surface.

“These are unique circumstances and they must be taken into consideration by the Governor,” said Bucco. “The administration should take another look at how the COVID rules apply to hockey. If they do, they will realize it is safe to resume competition.”

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