THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Hockey tourney was a nice score for MIAA this year

By Bob Holmes
Globe Staff / April 14, 2011

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FRANKLIN — On a day when the weather was making it miserable to play high school sports, it was also getting credit for the best financial results in the history of the MIAA ice hockey tournament.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Ice Hockey Committee, deputy director Bill Gaine presented the tournament’s financial report card, and the grades were good.

“This is a classic example of all the stars being aligned,’’ said Gaine, who credited three items for the success, all of which the MIAA had no control over.

■In a winter with record snowfall, there were no weather-related issues from the start of the tournament Feb. 27 to the conclusion March 20.

■The matchups from preliminary round to state finals couldn’t have been better.

■Gaine cited “silly things,’’ such as higher-seeded teams that haven’t historically drawn well being upset by teams with huge community support.

The numbers backed him up, starting with record attendance for the six state finals at TD Garden. Attendance was 22,252 for the four boys’ and two girls’ finals. That figure was up from last year’s 16,115. But it wasn’t just one day. Attendance for all games was up.

“It was the highest revenue that the ice hockey tournament has ever had, the highest net that ice hockey has ever had,’’ said Gaine. “It’s a wonderful story.’’

The bottom line was a net of $373,123, or a $108,991 improvement over last year. With approximately 80 percent of MIAA revenue coming from tournament ticket sales, the news was welcome.

“I think it was an outstanding 2 1/2 weeks of tournament play,’’ said committee chairman and Arlington Catholic athletic director Dan Shine.

There were other topics, led by a discussion of middle school waivers and cooperative teams in girls’ hockey.

Lincoln-Sudbury athletic director Nancy O’Neil spoke on behalf of a subcommittee formed to look at all aspects of the girls’ tournament. There were 15 cooperative teams this past winter. In addition, middle school girls are allowed to play on high school teams, after obtaining a waiver from the MIAA’s District Committees, and a number of schools were successful because of the play of seventh- and eighth-graders.

Winthrop/Lynn made it all the way to the Division 1 semifinals led by eighth-grade goalie Katie Burt. And Acton-Boxboro did that one better, facing Hingham in the Division 1 state final at the Garden led by goalie Cali Loblundo, a 12-year-old seventh-grader.

The spirit of the rule allowing cooperative teams and middle school students is to help teams survive when participation is low. But committee members expressed concern that it could be used simply to get a better chance at winning.

Shine asked if the answer was to pass a rule that cooperative teams and teams using middle school students be barred from the tournament.

“Maybe that’s the way to go,’’ he said.

The issue will be addressed, with a possible vote, at the committee’s next meeting in the fall.

O’Neil also said the subcommittee investigated the possibility of a Super 8 tournament for girls but concluded, “The data doesn’t quite support it yet.’’

Super 8 tournament director Jim O’Connor reported that 16,160 fans saw games at Merrimack, Tsongas Center in Lowell, and the Garden.

“The 1-A tournament is alive and well,’’ O’Connor said.

Merrimack will again be the primary host site for next season’s Super 8.

One potential change for the Super 8 tournament will be put before the Tournament Management Committee June 28. The Ice Hockey Committee will propose that starting in 2013, the format be changed to a best two out of three instead of a guarantee of three games for each school.

To balance the number of teams in the North and South sectionals, the committee also discussed moving the Tri-Valley League from the South to the North sectional. That issue will be discussed in the fall.

Bob Holmes can be reached at rholmes@globe.com.