Leading off today:
One of the longest and most distinguished careers in New York high school sports has come to a close as Section 1 ice hockey chairman John Orlando confirmed his resignation in an email Sunday.
Changes made by Section 1 to operate hockey in a similar fashion as it handles other sports led to Orlando, 74, opting to step down after more than 40 seasons in charge. His resume also includes 25 years as head hockey coach at Suffern with a 456-99-14 record and a NYSPHSAA championship in 1992, plus 284 wins in boys lacrosse.
"This is something that I thought long and hard about," Orlando told The Journal News. "I decided that I did not do this job alone. It's something we did as a team. We got dissolved. I wanted my team back and that's not going to happen, so I resigned."
Beginning with the upcoming season, hockey operations will be handled by the Southern Westchester BOCES office, which has a staff that handles the various aspects of sports including scheduling and the assignment of officials. Jen Simmons, the section's executive director, told the paper a committee began looking into Westchester Rockland Putnam Dutchess Interscholastic Ice Hockey League operations last fall after several schools expressed concern over costs; BOCES has been handling the league's finances for several years.
"There was redundancy," Simmons told the paper in an email. "And yes, almost all league fees will be gone with the exception of costs for (mandatory) EMTs or certified athletic trainers for the games, ultimately saving the schools money."
Gone, though, will be Orlando and many other members of an experienced crew. Jim Tozzo, who scheduled the games; and Stephan Valis, George Valis and Michael Schoenbach, who assigned off-ice officials, are out. Schoenbach, who ran Section1Hockey.com, has decided to fold the website.
An observation: The amount Section 1 schools will ultimately save with the hockey change is not yet certain since most costs (game officials, EMTs, rink rentals, etc.) will remain, but money is a logical focal point for the section. While the mandatory IRS Form 990 filings for other sections across the state routinely show year-over-year growth or status quo in top-line revenue, Section 1's annual figure dropped about 15 percent over four years according to its filing for the year ending Aug. 31, 2013, its most recent filing.
Even with a reasonable cushion in its savings account, that puts the section in the uncomfortable position of potentially being one blustery week of late-fall weather away from ending the year in the red because of low attendance for soccer and football playoffs.
Having said that, though, it is disappointing that the hockey changes couldn't be made in a way that would keep John Orlando and all of the previous committee involved. I can say without hesitation that Section 1 hockey has been on the very short "best of breed" list for any sport in any section when it comes to keeping all parties updated on results, schedule changes, playoff planning and just about any other aspect that makes a reporter's life easier.
I can recall their email threads in recent years in which the entire process from the moment a Section 1 game was postponed to when it was rescheduled (with the necessary staffing confirmed) took less than a day. That's no small feat in hockey, where ice time at the very limited number of