Governors of all six New England states released a joint statement Thursday suspending all interstate youth hockey competitions.

The announcement, which also includes New Jersey in addition to New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut, will also apply to public and private schools' hockey programs, according to a release.

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Jason Carnes, a coach with the New Hampshire East Eagles youth hockey program based in Exeter, said a good part of his team's schedule had already been cut short by prior restrictions imposed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, and added these new interstate suspensions will likely make greater waves throughout New England.

"It's going to have an impact on hockey altogether," Carnes told Seacoast Current when reached by phone Thursday. "For example, there are kids that play in a Massachusetts league but just because they live in New Hampshire they won't be able to play in Massachusetts any longer."

"We just have to keep our fingers crossed that next year will be normal."
-James Carnes, New Hampshire East Eagles youth hockey coach

Carnes coaches the Peewee-3 level team and said his games in the Valley League, which is based in Massachusetts, have essentially been voided since his Exeter-based team was prohibited from traveling across state lines. His team also plays in the Granite State League, which is based in New Hampshire.

Citing rising COVID-19 case numbers in many states, the suspension is effective beginning Saturday and will run through at least Dec. 31. Professional, collegiate and U.S. National teams will not be affected. Teams still have the ability to play intra-state games.

"We've literally only played two GSL games since we started back in September and that's pretty much it," Carnes said. "Obviously I understand (the decision). We just have to go with the flow and we're trying to make the practices more fun for the kids as opposed to standard drills. We're basically all practice right now and another tough thing to come by has been ice time. ... We just have to keep our fingers crossed that next year will be normal."

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu was quoted in the joint announcement and said he found the guidelines to be "practical" in nature.

“Given the support for this agreement from our regional neighbors, New Hampshire made the practical decision to join this effort," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement. "We remain optimistic that our newly issued Hockey and Ice Arena guidance will continue to ensure a safe and successful hockey season for New Hampshire hockey players.”

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