Monday, April 02, 2007

A Loss... By The Book....

NOBLETON -- By the book, the Thornton Tigers peewee hockey team broke the rules.

The crime: Ineligible trainer.

The punishment: A forced season-ending forfeit.

The result: A team of 11- and 12-year-olds getting booted out of the league final because adults in their organization made a mistake and adults in the opposing organization turned to Page 93 of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Manual of Operations to have a result overturned.

"It really stinks," Tigers captain Joey Cochrane said of watching another Thornton squad lose 4-1 against Nobleking Knights, semi-final losers before protesting, in Game 4 of the eight-point final.

Kim Criece-Reynolds, whose son plays for the eliminated Thornton team from just south of Barrie, is at the centre of the controversy.

A certified trainer, Criece-Reynolds agreed to fill in for the team's absent regular trainer during the six-point final. Tigers president Bill Wiggins approved the plan, telling coach Todd Lewis to inform the Knights coaching staff of the change before Game 1.

Lewis said he did just that, pointing out she was certified and also noting she wasn't the regular trainer.

While Knights coach Brian Love politely declined comment on the matter this week, Lewis said the Nobleking coaches didn't express any problems with the plan. The series went on with Criece-Reynolds on the bench for all six games, including a Tigers victory in the deciding Game 6 last Monday.

But the anticipated all-Thornton final was called off less than 48 hours later. A day after Game 6 of the semi-final, the Knights filed a protest, pointing to the fact that Criece-Reynolds is not on the roster of the Tigers' organization. She also does not have a PRS number, an OMHA requirement since 2005 for any adults associated with a kids team. Adults must take a three-hour safety course to obtain the number.

The protest was upheld by Simcoe league chairman Dave Matanovic. Matanovic declined an interview request.


The OMHA manual of operations states: "Any player or team official whose name appears on the game sheet and/or participates in the game and is ineligible for any reason will cause their team to forfeit the game regardless of the score of the game."

"Did we break the rules? Yes," said Criece-Reynolds, who did not step on the ice in Game 6. "Did we do it intentionally? No. Did it affect the outcome of the game? No. It's supposed to be all about the kids and it turned out to be about a technicality."

While the Tigers are guilty of breaking the rules, there is still one unanswered question: Why did the Knights wait until after the series was decided to file the protest, even though Criece-Reynolds was on the bench for the entire semi-final?

"I believe there was convenience involved, but I can't prove it," Wiggins said. "It's an ugly, ugly thing."

In the aftermath of the protest, Wiggins and Knights president Michael Bennett came up with a solution -- play Game 6 over again. But the Simcoe league turned that proposal down, officially ending the Tigers' season.

"I really feel for the kids," said Richard Ropchan, executive director of the OMHA. "It's better when the game is decided on the ice and not by some technicality. But you can't bend the rules.

"Rules are rules."

Ok.. this isn't right. YES, it was against the rules (I checked the 2006 OMHA Operations Manual myself). And YES, they have a point... but according to the SRMHL.. in which
DAVE MATANOVIC is the Chairman... their motto is, Have Fun, Play Hard, Have Fun. It just sucks when these kids play hard... have fun... and then get taught that it doesn't matter how you fair you play... or how much sportsmanship you show... If you need to whine and fight and complain to win... then what values are people like Dave Matanovic teaching their kids?


Decide it on the ice

Shame on the team who protested the mother acting as trainer. And shame on the tournament directors whose job it is to ensure fun and fair play for all. Let the games be decided on the ice by the kids.

Joe Badali


(It's kids hockey, right? For the fun of the game)

Game is for the kids

Thanks to the Sun for "A loss -- by the book" by Mike Koreen. My younger brother was one of the goalies for the Thornton Tigers and he was very disappointed by the league's decision to disqualify his team. The Tigers battled it out with the Nobleking team and the Tigers were the better team. I think it's shameful for the Nobleking coach to protest the win due to an ineligible trainer and take away the Tigers' win. These kinds of actions illustrate what has become of Ontario minor hockey. The article will hopefully get some attention from the OMHA and events like this will, with any luck, not happen again. The game should be all about the kids and it will take some effort to get it back that way.

Cameron Loder

(Isn't the game also about post-game pizza parties, not league hearings?)

Stick To Rules: Coach Says
Mistaken suspension, led to PeeWee team challenge....

Peewee hockey coach Brian Love claims he would not have protested an opposing team's use of an ineligible trainer if not for an unrelated mistake by the referee on the same game sheet.

After the Toronto Sun reported yesterday that Love's protest of the victorious Thornton Tigers use of a non-rostered trainer overturned the result of their semi-final, the NobleKing Knights coach told the FAN 590 he was calling the Simcoe League to report a wrongly issued suspension when he noticed Thornton trainer Kim Criece-Reynolds did not have a mandatory PRS safety number.

The referee issued a three-game suspension to a Knights assistant coach for an argument in the deciding Game 6 last Monday, but Love said the official accidentally handed the penalty to him.


"If the referee had not (given the suspension to the wrong coach), I never would have inquired about getting the (trainer) thing right," Love told the FAN.

"I inquired about the game sheet (as the referee) gave me a suspension and I wantd to get it straightened out. In passing, it (the trainer issue) sort of fell on my lap ... She didn't have a PRS number. It was the luck of the draw."

Love said the Tigers coaches asked him before the series if the Knights trainer could help Criece-Reynolds out if needed because their regular trainer was away, but never mentioned she did not have a Prevention Services certificate (PRS), an Ontario Minor Hockey Association requirement for any adults associated with a kids team.

"My wife, who is the manager, had to travel a fair distance to get a PRS number, just to have the honour of sitting on the bench three times to cover for a coach who was away and just to take money at the door," Love said.


"So I said you know what? I'm going to challenge this if they don't have a PRS number. Because you know what? Rules are rules. I can't believe they would put their team in jeopardy."

The ensuing Simcoe league final series between another Thornton team and NobleKing has featured its share of ugliness. Thornton coach Kevin Kennedy said a league official told him that NobleKing parents felt threatened and if it continued the series could be awarded to the Knights. In addition, one parent was booted out of the arena for a heated argument with an official.

Meanwhile, the Tigers are leading the charge for a rule change. President Bill Wiggins said he will put forth a motion with the OMHA that calls for a coach to be suspended three games for any off-ice ineligibility rulings that do not affect game outcomes, instead of a forced forfeit.

From The Globe and Mail:

Shoalts: Odds and sods from the road and elsewhere

ATLANTA -- There is an early contender for Weasel Move of the Year, always a crowded field when the folks from minor hockey get involved.

Brian Love, the coach of the NobleKing Knights, a peewee team based in Nobleton, Ont., gets the nod for making an official protest on a technicality that overturned the result of the sixth and deciding game in the Simcoe League final against the Thornton Tigers. He filed the protest because the trainer for the Thornton team did not have a Prevention Services (PRS) certificate, which is required by the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.

It was a bitter series by all accounts and Love’s team lost the game. But his protest to the OMHA was upheld, the result was reversed and the NobleKing team was declared league champion. It will also move on in the OMHA playoffs.

Before the series started, according to an account in the Toronto Sun, the Knights told the NobleKing team they would not have their regular trainer for the series. They asked if the mother of one of the players, who was a certified trainer, could fill in and the NobleKing team did not object. But she did not have the PRS certificate, which is acquired after completing a three-hour safety course.

One day after the final game, Love filed his protest and the Thornton team was disqualified.

Earlier this week, Love told sports radio station The Fan 590 he only filed the protest because he noticed the error when he called the OMHA to straighten out another matter. Love’s assistant coach received a suspension in the final game and it was mistakenly attributed to Love on the game sheet. He said if the suspension mixup had not occcured, “I never would have inquired about getting the [trainer] thing right,” Love told Don Landry, The Fan’s morning-show host.

“In passing, it [the trainer’s lack of a certificate] sort of fell in my lap,” Love said. “She didn't have a PRS number. It was the luck of the draw.”

However, a couple of sarcastic remarks Love made to Landry about the other team at the start of the interview indicated there was much bitterness in the series and the feelings were still fresh.

Landry is to be congratulated for not letting Love off the hook after his lame explanation. He told the coach he could have let the matter rest rather than file a protest on a technicality a day later and deprive a group of 12- and 13-year-old boys of something they rightfully earned.

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