Novi hockey team can play in state quarterfinal

David Goricki
The Detroit News

The Novi hockey team is set to square off against Trenton in a Division 2 state quarterfinal. It almost didn't happen.

Novi's spot in the quarterfinal was in jeopardy when a player from South Lyon — the team Novi defeated last Thursday to move into the regional championship — tested positive for COVID-19. That forced Novi to put its season on hold, via the Oakland County Health Division. 

Steve Matthews, Novi Community School District superintendent, said "after several exchanges with the Oakland County Health Division, they were willing to reconsider their original decision. We were able to help them understand the minimal exposure that occurred during the game and demonstrate the lack of close contact. I appreciate the willingness of the Oakland County Health Division to listen to us, support these student athletes, and let us play."

Novi (12-2-2) reached the quarterfinals with a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday over Livonia Stevenson. 

Novi head hockey coach Mark Vellucci said the team was "shocked" when it found out about the positive case.

“We’re hoping to get some good news from the (Oakland County) Health Department within the next 24 hours,” Vellucci said before the final decision. “We were shocked when we learned of the positive case. We went and looked at the tape of the game and he (player who tested positive) played less than 10 minutes and had minimum contact if any with our players, so we’re hoping for good news. We sent the tape to our administration and our superintendent sent it to the health department.

“We haven’t had a positive case all year. None of our players have any symptoms. We’ll do anything to play, take rapid tests before the game like wrestlers have to do just before they compete.”

Novi (12–2-2) and Trenton will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Dearborn.

Livonia Stevenson had to quarantine after it played Northville earlier this month since a Northville player tested positive for COVID.

In fact, it was the first time in 17 days that Stevenson played when it faced Novi on Saturday.

“We’re glad we had a chance to play them,” said Stevenson coach David Mitchell of playing Novi, “but it’s been a long year.”

The high school season was halted due to the pandemic as it reached the final week last year.