Burlington, Colchester deal with disappointment

BHS/CHS girls hockey team had to withdraw from D-1 girls hockey state final at last minute due to COVID protocols.
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 8:33 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - On Wednesday, the BFA-St. Albans and Brattleboro boys and Middlebury girls all laid claim to hockey state titles, however, it wasn’t until Thursday morning that the last state champion was officially crowned.

The Essex girls hockey team is the Division One Vermont state champion for the third consecutive season following an announcement from the Vermont Principals Association this morning.

The Hornets were initially set to defend their title against the Burlington-Colchester SeaLakers in Wednesday afternoon’s D-1 final, but that game was first delayed and then canceled outright after it was discovered a player on the cooperative BHS/CHS team was a potential close contact for a presumptive COVID positive individual.

According to Burlington athletic coordinator Quaron Pinckney and Colchester Athletic Director Mark Ellingson, the situation developed rapidly Wednesday afternoon, and ultimately the two school districts made the call in the interest of the safety of their athletes along with the officials and girls from Essex.

“We went back and forth with a bunch of zooms from Q and I talking a ton, all the way up until us waiting at the rink to try and make sure we were feeling like our schools and our communities felt as though we were safe enough and ready to play that game.”, said Ellingson.

“It was something that we found out yesterday, so the timing is definitely unfortunate.”, added Pinckney. “But as Mark said, we tried to exhaust all options to make sure whether it was safe enough to play the game and ultimately our community health and safety, that was placed above all else.”

But even with that logic behind the decision, it doesn’t make it easier on the players, who were yet again denied a state title at the final hurdle.

After falling to Essex in last year’s state championship game, the SeaLakers were set to play in their second straight final despite a large roster turnover, in addition to all the challenges of playing through a pandemic.

Both school’s AD’s made the point that ending the season as runner-up won’t change the way anyone views this team’s accomplishments.

“We lost a ton of great players last year.”, said Ellington. “Expectations weren’t high for this team, and they just exceeded on every level. We are so proud of what they did. The decision made today doesn’t impact what our team accomplished and how proud we are of them.”

“At the end of the day, in the eyes of our two school communities coming together with this co-op and you know unfortunately not being able to finish out that opportunity to compete for a state championship this year, these girls are champions in all of our eyes in both communities.”, said Pinckney.

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