BY BILL STEWART

Staff Writer

The Skowhegan Area High School hockey team will be eligible for the Eastern A playoffs should it qualify, a Maine Principals’ Association committee ruled Friday.

Skowhegan, which has a co-operative team with Madison, is competing in Eastern A but playing primarily Class B teams because of a scheduling mixup. As a result, the Indians won’t play the minimum number of conference games required by the MPA to be postseason eligible.

However, the MPA management committee approved to expand the Eastern A field from eight to nine teams should Skowhegan qualify.

“Skowhegan won’t be penalized because of a snafu,” said Mike Burnham, an executive director at the MPA.

The eighth- and ninth-seeded teams would compete in what essentially would be a play-in game should that situation arise.

MPA rules state that hockey teams must play 12 games against at least eight different opponents in their class to be eligible for the playoffs.

The Indians will play three games against just two Eastern A teams this season — Cony and Sacopee/Windham. Skowhegan received a Class B schedule only to be notified later by the MPA that its combined enrollment with Madison put them in the Class A classification. Skowhegan’s schedule against primarily Class B teams was finalized at the point, but the MPA granted an exception for this season.

“It’s good news,” Skowhegan coach Jeff Fowler said. “It would’ve been a real shame to penalize them and not make them eligible for the playoffs. For some reason, there was a communication problem along the way with the schedule. No one realized that we are a co-operative team. It was human error, and it happens.”

Burnham added that the change is for this season only.

“Skowhegan won’t take the place of another team,” he said. “They won’t eliminate somebody. It’s just a one-year thing.”

Hockey committee chairperson Jeff Turnbull, the Gardiner athletic director, stated Skowhegan’s case before the MPA management committee on Thursday.

“He did a good job presenting their case,” Burnham said. “The committee approved it unanimously.”

Skowhegan is 4-5-2 and is eighth in Eastern A Heal points.

“We’re fighting to make it,” Fowler said. “We want to get there.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]