Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Series Of Unfortunate Events - The Typhoons Hockey Version

Hey, any chance to post Poke Check's grin here is good enough for me. The kid's got 6 goals and 7 assists in the last 13 games, while the Typhoons have gone 9-2-2...not bad. In the teams first 46 games, they were something close to just 12 wins and a bunch of losses. During that time she had all of two whole goals playing on a "checking line." She got bumped up to the top line playing alongside a wickedly good little centerman, and boom, we started winning. I like to think her play had something to do with it!

This weekend in Brantford, she was at it again. We played against three really good teams, and allowed only 1 goal against. We won one and tied two, but we scored only two goals. Poke Check assisted on the first and scored the other. Trouble is, we were royally shafted by an incompetant tournament convenor mixed with bad Toronto area weather. Though we went undefeated, we didn't qualify for the semi-finals. It was quite a mess of bad calls by the organizers that gave us the shaft.

Here's what I wrote about it for the local paper. Think there's any chance of them running this piece?

"A Series Of Unfortunate Events - The Typhoons Hockey Version"

Question: How can a Pee Wee hockey team go undefeated in three tournament games, allow only one goal against, and still not qualify for a semi-final round?

Answer: A mixture of bad weather, and an ill-advised hockey board decision regarding an unplayed match, unfortunately conspired against the Cornwall Pee Wee "B" Typhoons chances at the 26th Annual Walter Gretzky Tournament in Brantfort this past weekend.

It is unfortunate because the Typhoons were unfairly stripped of a win, while playing near perfect hockey over the course of three games.

What unfolded reads like a "What not to do" list, in the occurance of a game unplayed due to weather concerns. The proper ruling would have been to award the two no-show teams a split of the games two points, and then simply carry on with the remaining matches.

How it all went wrong, went like this:

Oakville and London, scheduled to meet in the tournament's opening game Thursday night, cancelled out, due to a bad snowstorm that had engulfed the South-Eastern Ontario region. The same storm that made it's way towards Cornwall overnight, and hit town the next morning.

Typhoons players and their families braved this inclement weather in order to arrive for a 2:15 p.m. game Friday afternoon.

The Typhoons game went ahead as scheduled, and they defeated the Carleton Place Cyclones 1-0.

No one in the Cornwall camp was made aware of the previous night's cancellation - no game results were posted. Another game involving an Ann Arbour, Michigan team versus the Clearview Ice Cats was also played. Clearview, who won that contest 2-0, were also in the dark as to the London - Oakville no show, an it's forthcoming implications.

Tournament organizers, who really ought to have known better, proceeded to make a ruling that hindered the teams who had shown up to play, rather than splitting the points between the teams held back by the weather.

Several parties involved in the fiasco were quite in the right to point out how odd it was that teams further east, and south, of the storm were able to make their games, while 2 teams within an hour of the arena were not. Let it be stated that no one should question parents safety concerns when driving into snowstorms - especially when children are involved.

Still, their soundminded decisions should not have impacted the tournaments outcome in the manner in which it did.

Where the tournament organizers goofed, to word it kindly, was by placing the balance of power in the hands of the teams who failed to show Friday night. They also erred in not informing, as of Friday evening, the four teams who had played, especially the two winning teams, that a contest went unplayed - with a decision pending.

That decision was left dangling by the said organizers, as they determined how to proceed. Quoting an ODWHA ruling in the event of this type of unplayed game, the coaches of Oakville and London were both required to sign the game sheet, thereby forefeitting the match to each other, and hence splitting the points. Should one coach refuse to do so, however, all six participating teams first matches were be cancelled.

The tournament body should have ruled over the coaches choices and made the split.

Instead, the organizers fully explained the implications of not signing the sheets to the London and Oakville parties. What this slip did in essence, was clue both teams into the fact that by their refusal, they were wiping out a one point lead gained by Cornwall and Clearview with their wins in the opening games. This misguided slip gave teams who'd not yet played a game, the upper hand in deciding the fate of the clubs who'd stepped ahead by showing up and winning.

The Typhoons and the three remaining teams had yet to be told a word of this when they showed for their Saturday morning contests. When the London coach approached Cornwall's parents and coaching staff prior to the contest to inquire if they had won or lost, little did anyone realize there was a consequence to admitting such information.

Of course, the London coach refused to sign his game sheet, thus eliminating the wins in the games played by teams the night before.

The tournament's convenor felt it best that everyone start from scratch. That would all be fine if everyone had been properly notified and agreed to it, which was far from how it unravelled.

Admittedly, the Ann Arbour squad was the weakest of six oppanants. London was witnessing this while their decision was still pending. Oakville was in the process of beating them 5-0, while the Carleton Place team would play the Michigan girls that afternoon. Wins by London and Oakville would clearly place them in the drivers seat for attaining the semi-finals, and they knew what they were doing in failing to put their names to the game sheets.

This was all lost on the tournament convenor, who steadfastly refused to consider and resubmit facts and the implied consequences, to a higher authority, the ODWHA convenor. It could make him look, shall it be said - incompetant.

The scenario became increasingly complicated when Cornwall and London played to a scoreless tie that morning. Tournament standing tie-breakers are complicated enough in a three game round robin - nevermind a two game set.

The Typhoons needed a win against a very strong Clearview team to move on to the semis. A loss would eliminate Cornwall, a tie would further complicate the chances.

And a tie is exactly what occured. The Typhoons knotted the Clearview squad 1-1 and were left cheering for nothing more than a 2-2 tie between Ann Arbour and London - an unlikely outcome at best.

What transpired was, London and Oakville, the two teams who'd missed playing their opening match, and Carleton Place, who'd lost to the Typhoons in the cancelled game, all moved on to the semi's leaving Cornwall on the sidelines. The exact and shameful scenario feared.

The tournament organizers were left with egg on their faces while squeamishly admitting they'd made the wrong moves. Somewhat harshly, they still were blazingly repugnant in saying that they chose to side with making 4 teams content rather that leaving two teams upset and disapointed. Incredibly, they failed to seize that 4 teams would come out content either way. They simply lost sight of how to determine which teams that should have been.

The whole mess is a shame and ought to be a lesson to organizers and convenors of sports tournaments everywhere. Never let an event's participant have rule over what ought to be a simple common sense decision. Split points in forfeitted games in all fairness to the spirit of friendly competition. A single coach or participant should never be given power to dictate his favoured outcome.

To their credit, the Typhoons coaches and players are to be commended for their resolve. While few parties agreed or were content with the decisions, the coaches applauded their players play in the three hard fought games. The Typhoons girls left Brantford with a feeling of accomplishment nonetheless. All heads were held high and proudly so.

In the 3 round robin contests, the Typhoons played in front of the tournaments best goalie, Bianka Emmell, who surrendered but one goal in the three games. Cornwall's lone goal in game one came courtesy of Caitlin Champagne. With Katryne Villeneuve working the corner, Crystal Lefebvre one-timed the perfect setup pass and Champagne was right where she needed to be, tapping in a loose puck.

Lefebvre tied up the Clearview game, in the middle frame, the lucky recipient of another Villeneuve pass. In the corners again, Villeneuve slotted a feed to Jenna Merpaw parked it the slot. When Merpaw's stick was lifted by a check, the puck slid straight to Lefebvre, who threw the handy surprise over the goalie's leg.

While all Typhoons players played their hearts out, opposing coaches awarded game MVP medals to Emmell, Villeneuve, and Taylor Marcellus - all worthy choices.

The Typhoons are now a combined 9-2-3 in their last 14 contests. They begin the ODWHL playoffs this week before embarquing on the journey to the Ontario Provincials in April. May better luck be your guide.

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