High school hockey officials are back on the ice.

Chris Parsons, the president of the Maine chapter of the National Ice Hockey Officials Association, confirmed Saturday that officials have approved an offer from the Maine Principals’ Association that would end an impasse over payment for games. Officials returned to the ice in time for girls’ hockey preseason games, which started Saturday.

“I think we all had the same goal in mind, which was for the student-athletes to have a season,” Parsons said. “To finally get ink to paper and get this season signed and done with, we can move forward with this year.”

MPA Executive Director Mike Burnham said that the agreement is not yet official. The MPA and NIHOA reached a tentative agreement on Nov. 4, the NIHOA board approved it Tuesday, and Burnham signed a temporary measure Friday to allow officials to work until the MPA’s interscholastic committee votes on the deal.

Burnham said the committee is meeting Wednesday, and the deal “is on the agenda.”

“There’s a tentative agreement moving forward,” Burnham said. “The officials have approved it, and once our management committee approves it, we’re good to go.”


Officials and the MPA had been engaged in a dispute over per-game payments. The MPA offered a raise from $78 per game to $82, but the NIHOA’s Maine chapter said officials wanted $90 per game – a 15-percent increase from the 2021-22 season.

Both Parsons and Burnham declined to give financial details of the pending agreement. Parsons said the contract will be for three years, and was “overwhelmingly” accepted by the officials.

High school superintendents on Oct. 24 urged the sides to return to negotiations. With former Lewiston boys’ hockey coach Jamie Belleau serving as a mediator, the two parties reached the tentative agreement.

“There was a lot of negotiation that went into not only this year, but future years,” Burnham said. “The mediation was crucial.”

Parsons said that while the negotiations were lengthy, neither side was looking to jeopardize the boys’ and girls’ hockey seasons.

“The process probably took longer than either side wanted,” he said. “(But) we all had the right frame of mind and the right attitude about trying to see this thing through.”

Burnham said that even with the MPA’s official vote pending, he’s confident the season isn’t at risk.

“I’m feeling that, through this process, we’re able to have an ice hockey season,” he said. “We’ve made enough of a move that we could do that.”

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