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Hill-Murray's lawsuit against MSHSL rejected; out of state tourney

The lawsuit was rejected and the MSHSL didn't approve moving the game to Thursday.

The defending state champions of Class 2A boys' hockey in Minnesota have been knocked out of the tournament this year before even taking the ice. 

Hill-Murray has bowed out of the state tournament after a Washington County judge denied a lawsuit that sought a temporary restraining order against the Minnesota State High School League, which, if it had been granted, would've allowed the Pioneers to play in the state tournament following a  possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Varsity players wouldn't have been allowed to play in Wednesday's 11 a.m. game against Wayzata if they were on the ice March 24 at the same time as a White Bear Lake player who allegedly tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26. 

The lawsuit noted that the Minnesota Department of Health advised that Hill-Murray would be "eligible to commence hockey activities on Thursday, April 1, 2021, just one day after their scheduled game against Wayzata." Wayzata agreed to move the game to Thursday to keep Hill-Murray in the tournament, but the MSHSL didn't allow it. 

"The Trojans wanted this one to be settled on the ice. We feel for the Hill Murray players, staff and community," Wayzata High announced late Tuesday night. 

In a letter sent to varsity hockey families late Tuesday, Hill-Murray President Jill Hansen and Athletics Director John Pohl jointly stated that "none of our players" were near the White Bear Lake player who tested positive for COVID-19 for "more than a few seconds," adding that no Hill-Murray player had face-to-face contact with him. 

"Although we remain a proud member of the MSHSL, we are deeply saddened by this outcome. We know how important the state tournament experience is for our players. They've worked extremely hard and have dreamed about this moment all their lives," the joint statement said. 

Coach Bill Lechner told the Star Tribune the MSHSL "didn't accept the details we gave them," adding that "it's a shame." 

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The MSHSL's ruling to keep Hill-Murray from playing Wednesday follows Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 protocols that recommend anyone who had a potential exposure to the virus quarantine for seven days. 

COVID-19 exposures also knocked the majority of Hermantown's roster out of the Class 1A state tournament, though Hermantown elected to give its junior varsity a team a shot to play on the biggest high school hockey stage in St. Paul. They lost to Dodge Center on Tuesday night. 

Scores from Class 1A quarterfinals Wednesday: 

  • Gentry Academy 8, Northern Lakes 0
  • East Grand Forks 8, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 1
  • Dodge County 7, Hermantown 1
  • Little Falls 2, Delano 1

The Class 2A quarterfinals start Wednesday. Wayzata has been awarded a 1-0 win over Hill-Murray due to what the MSHSL calls a "COVID Advancement." Other 2A games: 

  • 1 p.m. - Lakeville South vs. Moorhead
  • 6 p.m. - Eden Prairie vs. St. Thomas Academy
  • 8 p.m. - Maple Grove vs. Andover

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