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State high school hockey championships in Buffalo the latest to ban the fans

WBFO file photo

One day after it was announced New York State youth hockey championships will be played in Western New York without spectators, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced it, too, will close its hockey championships in Buffalo to fans as a COVID-19 virus-related measure.

State high school hockey championships will be held March 14 and 15 in LECOM HarborCenter. The NYSPHSAA says it has moved to close the games to spectators on the direction of the Erie County Health Department.

The New York State Amateur Hockey Association, on Tuesday, announced it had been directed by the Town of Amherst to close its state youth tournament games to fans at the Northtown Center. The NYSAHA decided to extend that policy to the other venues where games will be held, Cornerstone Arena in Lockport and Hyde Park Ice Pavilion in Niagara Falls.

Other sports in the midst of NYSPHSAA championship tournaments include bowling and basketball.

"It continues to be the goal of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to host the Winter Championships with direction from the New York State Department of Health, local county health departments and Governor Cuomo’s office," said NYSPHSAA executive director Dr. Robert Zayas. "At this time, we are moving forward with the championships, however the impact of the coronavirus could necessitate revisions to the championship schedule."

The bowling tournament, being held in Syracuse, remains on as scheduled. According to the NYSPHSAA, there have been no statements of concern for public health in that part of the state. As for basketball, officials say "no major adjustments" have been made but there have been some tweaks.

As stated online by the NYSPHSAA: "The Monroe-Woodbury vs. Ursuline Girls Basketball Class AA sub-regional game scheduled for this evening is being postponed pending official guidance from the NYS Department of Health, Orange County Health Department and Westchester County Department of Health.  The NYSPHSAA Executive Director is working with both communities in an effort to have this sub-regional played prior to Saturday, March 14.  Other Regional basketball game locations have been revised because of facility availability."

Pegula Sports and Entertainment, meanwhile, expressed it is monitoring developments related to coronavirus while assuring fans and employees of its commitment to safety.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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