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Sabbath Observant Teams Scheduled to Respect Religious Beliefs at NJYHL Playoffs

By AAHA, 04/16/21, 8:00AM EDT


Over 100 games were played this past weekend at the New Jersey Youth Hockey League (NJYHL) Playoffs. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, seeding and scheduling was not finalized until a week before the first face off. Among those who qualified were several Sabbath observant teams representing the North Jersey Avalanche and New Jersey Falcons. These teams were unable to play from sundown on Friday evening until sundown on Saturday evening.

The NJYHL moved games around the schedule, ensuring every team had the opportunity to play. In cooperation with coaches and team managers, game times were switched or slightly altered to give players enough time after sundown to arrive to the rink. This accommodation also provided parents the opportunity to see their players skate, with two of the teams from the North Jersey Avalanche winning the Championship on Sunday.

Not only were the games scheduled accordingly, but opposing coaches graciously offered to push games further into the week if the teams were unable to play during the scheduled time.

“The flames coaches and managers, who we played in the squirt finals, came up to me after the game and said that when they saw us in the finals, they were worried we couldn’t play on Sundays for religious reasons and they were going to call the league to see if the game could be pushed to Monday,” said Avalanche Manager Marc Helwani. “I thanked them profusely but explained that we can’t play Saturdays. It was very touching to see how kind people are. Even in the face of being able to win it all, they wanted to do the right thing,” he remarked.

“We want every child to have the opportunity to play,” stated NJYHL Administrative Vice President Maureen Thompson-Siegel. “Some minor schedule alterations made the games accessible to all – and that’s what it’s about,” she said.

These acts demonstrate the culture of hockey in the Atlantic District, where everyone is welcome to play because #HockeyIsForEveryone.