This may be a vacation week for Maine high schools, but many of the state’s top basketball, ice hockey and wrestling teams will keep busy at tournaments.

After they finish shoveling out from the snowstorm, that is.

The four-day Maine Red Claws/Portland High School Holiday Tournament starts today at the Portland Expo, but at 1 p.m., three hours later than originally scheduled.

The Maine High School Hockey Invitational also begins today at the Portland Ice Arena and the Biddeford Ice Arena, although the storm wiped out four early games and prevented a Florida team from flying north.

The two-day Noble Invitational wrestling tournament was pushed back a day to Tuesday and Wednesday at Noble High School in North Berwick. Ditto for the Wildcat Holiday Invitational, a basketball tournament in York involving boys’ and girls’ teams.

Because Maine Principals’ Association rules limit the number of dates Maine high school athletic teams can play outside of their regular-season schedules to five, organizers of the 18-team basketball tournament had to be creative in their scheduling.

“A lot of coaches used two or three dates during preseason, so we’re running it with two pools of teams,” said Portland Coach Joe Russo, who helps to organize the event.

Today’s schedule will consist of the first two rounds of tournament play featuring eight teams from Western Class A and B. Each team will play two games, with the top four squads advancing to Wednesday night’s consolation and championship rounds.

On Tuesday, round-robin play will start with a different pool of eight teams from Western Class A and B augmented by two teams from New York City — Susan Wagner High School and Transit Tech.

“I made the matchups in the round robin so teams from the same leagues would avoid playing each other,” Russo said. “I tried to make it competitive.”

Beginning Tuesday, the MHG Ice Arena in Saco will become the third site for the hockey tournament. On Wednesday, games also will be scheduled for the USM Ice Arena in Gorham.

The four-day round robin includes teams from 19 Maine schools as well as squads from Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

“We really try to make it where the local teams are going to enjoy the experience of meeting an out-of-state team,” said Gary Prolman, the organizer of the event. “We try to match up teams, so most of the games will be competitive. I always get excited to see how the Maine teams stack up against the out-of-state teams.”

During its 10 years of operation, the hockey tournament has awarded $100,000 in scholarships to Maine hockey players.

The wrestling tournament at Noble will include squads from 21 Maine high schools as well as six teams from New Hampshire and one squad from Vermont.

— Staff Writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]