With the high school winter sports season getting the green light, the South Kingstown High School hockey team is set to play its first home game on Jan. 26.
At Levy Rink.
The Rebels and the rest of South County’s squads will be hitting the road a lot in this already unusual season, whether the games are technically listed as home games or not. As of now, Boss Arena at the University of Rhode Island - home ice for five area teams - cannot host games due to a capacity limit.
“We’re all over the place,” said South Kingstown athletic director Terry Lynch. “It’s been a little rough, but it is what it is.”
Teams are permitted to practice at Boss Arena, but a limit of 25 people in the building makes games impossible. The two teams alone would generally clear that number, let alone coaches, officials and staff. The limit is also impacting the Southern Rhode Island Youth Hockey Association and URI’s club programs.
Boss Arena is owned by URI and operated by Spectra Venue Management, which also operates the Ryan Center.
“This capacity was set forth by the URI Task Force, Senior Leadership, and Spectra, in addition to other safety measures and protocols,” said rink director Jon Hendricks. “At this capacity, we cannot currently hold games. We continue to review these guidelines and make adjustments when deemed safe for our students, athletes, faculty, and staff.”
Even in a normal year, home games in Rhode Island high school hockey are not exactly like home games in basketball or football. There are only 11 rinks in the state. It’s not uncommon for “home” games to be at alternate sites, particularly if there is a backup of rescheduled games.
The crunch is a little more pronounced this year, with Boss Arena off the table. St. George’s School in Middletown - which hosted the Rogers/Middletown/Rocky Hill co-op last year, is reportedly not available to outside teams this year.
“Everybody is in the same boat,” Lynch said. “You try to go to Warwick, West Warwick, Cranston, but they all have teams they have to accommodate first. And then us. It backs it up a little bit.”
South Kingstown will be at Levy Rink in Burrillville, Lynch Arena in Pawtucket, Thayer Arena in Warwick and Benny Magiera Rink in West Warwick. North Kingstown has games scheduled for Thayer Arena and the Cranston Veterans Memorial Rink, with the location for one game still to be determined. Several games for the Narragansett/Chariho co-op remain up in the air. Prout has booked West Warwick for most of its games. The South County Storm co-op girls team is bouncing around from Cranston to Warwick to the Rhode Island Sports Center in North Smithfield.
Were it a normal schedule, the extra bus rides would tax athletic department budgets, but teams are slated for only about a half-dozen games in the regular season. The short fall season also helps the cause.
Spectator limits will vary depending on location. Even if games were going to be allowed at Boss, it’s likely there would be no fans permitted.
Mostly, teams are just looking forward to getting back on the ice, even if it’s unfamiliar ice.
“We’ll make it work,” Lynch said.