Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland’s Kylee Spugnardi, right, is trailed by Lewiston/Oak Hill’s Crew Langley as she brings the puck up the ice during Wednesday’s game at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

With the postseason for girls hockey beginning next week, there was a surprise for many coaches over the past week to find out that every team will have a berth in the playoffs.

Maine Principals’ Association executive director Michael Burnham confirmed Wednesday at the MPA’s ice hockey committee meeting that every girls hockey team will receive a postseason invitation, citing a recent rule adoption.

“Our management committee across the board changed to try to fill quarterfinal brackets and eliminate byes,” Burnham said during Wednesday’s meeting.

The MPA Management Committee made a change last spring where the two-thirds rule to determine a sport’s playoff field doesn’t apply to sports when there are eight or fewer teams in a region.

For example, if a region has 12 teams, eight make playoffs. If there are 16 teams in a region, 11 get a berth in the playoffs.

Burnham said the management committee made the change for all sports instead of dealing with individual requests.


Besides the 2020-21 season (no playoffs because of shortened COVID season) and the 2021-22 season — where every team had the opportunity to be in the playoffs because of COVID concerns — there has been a cutoff of how many teams made the playoffs since girls hockey became an MPA-sanctioned sport during the 2008-09 season.

Girls hockey has 15 teams in the state this season, divided into eight in the North region and seven in the South. Last season, six teams made the playoffs in the North, with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes, while four teams made up the South side of the bracket. Falmouth/Scarborough, the No. 5 seed, declined an invitation to the postseason.

This year in the North, it will be a straight-up one-through-eight bracket, and in the South, the top seed will have a quarterfinal bye with No. 2 playing the No. 7 seed, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed in the quarterfinals.

The higher seed will host in the quarterfinals.

With the number of blowouts in girls hockey in this and previous seasons, there is a question of whether teams that thought they weren’t going to make the postseason, because of the two-thirds rule, will decline the invitation. Teams can decline the postseason bid by Feb. 5 without a penalty. If a team declines to play in the postseason, the team it was scheduled to face moves on to the next round, and there will be no reseeding.

Besides Falmouth/Scarborough declining an invitation last season, Greely/Gray-New Gloucester opted out during the 2021-22 season after going 3-13 in the regular season. The Rangers were set to face Lewiston in the opening round. The Blue Devils ended up winning the state championship.


York athletic director Jeffrey Oliver — whose school is part of a cooperative program with Traip Academy, Marshwood and Noble — said the sixth-seeded Wildcats (2-13-1) in the South will accept a playoff berth.

“We will play in the first round as it’s a great opportunity for our young team to gain some additional experience,” Oliver said in an email to the Sun Journal on Thursday afternoon.

The York co-op has only two seniors on the roster.

Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland (seventh in the North), Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Medomak Valley (eighth in the North), and Greely/Gray-New Gloucester (seventh in the South) either declined to comment publicly or didn’t respond back to emails from the Sun Journal on Thursday.

After Tuesday’s game against the Winslow co-op, Mt. Ararat coach David Hunter was under the impression their season ends this week — the final day of the regular season is this Saturday.

“Tonight was a game about having fun,” Hunter said after the 8-2 loss to the Black Tigers. “We know we aren’t making the playoffs, but we are still trying our hardest — keeping the spirits up and keeping everyone healthy.”



• The girls regional semifinals will take place Saturday, Feb. 10, with The Colisee in Lewiston hosting the North region, and games scheduled at 1 and 3 p.m. Troubh Arena in Portland will host the two South games at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

• The girls regional finals will span two days, with the North final being played at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and the South at Troubh on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. During September’s ice hockey committee meeting, there was a proposal to have the regionals at Troubh and the state championship game at Norway Savings Bank Arena. However, Burnham received feedback to have the North regional at a site in the North region.

• The girls state championship will be at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 6:10 p.m.

• Class B North boys regional semifinals will be at The Forum at Presque Isle on Saturday, March 2 at 2 and 4:30 p.m. and the Class B South boys regional semifinals will be at Troubh at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

• Class A boys semifinals will be Wednesday, March 6 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, with the Class B South regional final at 8 p.m. The Class B North regional final will take place March 5 at Alfond Arena in Orono at 6:30 p.m. State games will be March 9 at Cross Arena, with 1 and 3:30 p.m. start times.

• Since Class A is a state-wide region, the two semifinal winners will receive division champion plaques. Since there’s no reseeding, the No. 1 vs. No. 8 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchups make up one division, while No. 2 vs. No. 7 and No. 3 vs. No. 6 matchups will make the other division. Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller brought this up at a lacrosse committee meeting, which also has state-wide regions. Other sports with state-wide regions are also looking to adopt divisional champions in state semifinal games.

• With USA Hockey recently announcing requirements for neck laceration protection beginning Aug. 1 for players under the age of 18 years old, the National Federation of State High School Associations hasn’t released any guidelines on neck protection just yet for high school hockey. The requirement from USA Hockey stems from the death of former NHL player Adam Johnson when a skate blade cut his neck in a game in England earlier this season.

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