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Hill-Murray won't play in State Class AA Boys Hockey Tournament

A judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday that was filed after nine seniors were told by the league they couldn't compete due to possible COVID-19 exposure.
Credit: KARE-11

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Hill-Murray boys hockey team is officially out of the Minnesota boy's state hockey tournament.

In a press release from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), the league said it was notified by the Pioneers that they won't be playing their Class AA opening-round game Wednesday against Wayzata, and it will officially be ruled a forfeit.

"These situations are difficult for everyone involved and when the experience impacted in our State Hockey Tournament, it is magnified even more," said MSHSL Executive Director Erich Martens in the release. "We would love to have a full tournament bracket for this iconic event, and these interruptions are frustrating and incredibly unfortunate."

The announcement comes hours after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that was filed by some members of the team after nine seniors were told by the league they couldn't compete due to possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Bob Kaufman is a parent and spokesperson for the Hill-Murray hockey team.

He spoke on behalf of nine seniors who jointly filed a lawsuit against the league.

"What is happening, this is criminal to these kids,” Kaufman said. “I played in the state tournament. I experienced that dream myself and I don’t want that to be taken away from them.”

According to the league, the team Hill-Murray beat last Wednesday to get into the tournament had a player test positive for COVID. And being that the two teams played against each other, the league states there’s a chance that some Hill-Murray players may have been exposed.

RELATED: March Madness: First team out due to COVID-19 protocols

Kaufman says the game tape shows that's very unlikely.

"We studied the tape and no one player on our team has been on the ice with that player for more than one minute and 48 seconds. No one player on our team has had close contact with that player for more than four seconds,” Kaufman explains.

The lawsuit argued Hill-Murray should be allowed to play on Wednesday because there’s little to no chance that any players were actually exposed.

Kaufman said the players were all wearing their masks, and so far, none of them have tested positive for COVID.

“Everybody feels healthy. There is not a single sniffle in that locker room. It’s just unjust that they can’t play,” Kaufman says.

Wayzata will instead advance to the semifinals to play the winner of Wednesday's game between Moorhead and Lakeville South.