Essex Girls' Hockey Championship

The Essex High girls' hockey team "celebrates" making it through the 2021 state championship tournament without a loss or needing to forfeit because of COVID-19 issues.

When it was time for the puck to drop in the 2021 Vermont D1 Girls' Hockey State Championship, discussions were still ongoing as to whether or not the game would actually be played.

As game time loomed, players from Essex High School (EHS) sat in their "locker room" area beneath the bleachers at Leddy Park's Gordon Paquette Arena in Burlington while Burlington/Colchester High School (BCHS) players and coaches stood around the parking lot outside waiting to hear what was going on.

Shortly after, the news was passed throughout the arena -- eventually making its way to the Hornet squad via head coach John Maddalena -- that the game was cancelled.

"Basically what happened is this: superintendents from the two districts got together to discuss a developing COVID situation, and the ultimate decision was that the game would not be played," said EHS Athletic Director Pat Merriam.

As of 6 p.m., no official statement had been released by the Vermont Principals' Association (VPA), the governing body for high school athletics in the state, about the situation. It is unclear whether Essex and its opponent will be named co-champions or if EHS will be crowned sole champs as the issue stemmed from cases on the BCHS squad -- leading some to believe it will go down as a forfeit by the SeaLakers.

The VPA sent out an email to the media at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday saying that the game was going to be cancelled because of a COVID-19 situation with the Burlington/Colchester team. Just minutes later, however, a follow-up email was sent that said, "[BCHS] only designated one individual as close contact so the game is on between Essex and Burlington/Colchester."

The Reporter will have reactions from Essex High coaches and players, as well as photos, later on.

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