The KIJHL president says he has no choice but to forfeit a Nelson Leafs win even though he concedes the rule the team broke should be tossed out.
A roster violation has forced the Leafs to default their 5-1 win over the Castlegar Rebels on Sept. 28. Defenceman Cole Jensen played the game despite not having been given the green light by BC Hockey ahead of time.
In an email to the team, BC Hockey admitted Jensen should have been approved prior to the game. But because he played, KIJHL president Larry Martel said Nelson has to give up the win.
“It’s paperwork, but it’s the rule,” he said.
Players have to be on the Hockey Canada Registry before they can be approved to play by provincial organizations such as BC Hockey. Martel said the Leafs should have double checked their scoresheet prior to the game to make sure Jensen had been approved.
Martel said he plans on asking the league’s board of directors to do away with the current rule at its next meeting in November.
“I want to get rid of this rule. It’s stupid,” he said. “What do I do? My hands are tied. I have to do it. Castlegar is insisting they get the forfeit points and they are right to do it.”
Leafs head coach Mario DiBella was also suspended one game for the violation. He agreed the team should have double checked Jensen’s paperwork was complete, but also criticized the league for enforcing what he sees as a relic of the past.
“Really, when I was first told, my comment to Larry was that this sort of thing has brought the league to a point where it’s nothing more than a beer league,” said DiBella.
“This is like old-timers hockey when you go to a tournament and someone’s looking for the upper hand when they’ve lost a game. That’s not what this is about. This is a great junior league, it’s a great development league, and this casts a scar on this league.”
Player stats will stand from the Sept. 28 game, meaning leading scorer Ryan Piva will keep his four-point night. Nelson has been on fire to start the season, having lost just once in 10 games.
Nelson is the second team this season to violate the roster rule. The North Okanagan Knights defaulted their second game of the season, also against Castlegar. The Rebels’ only points this season have so far come from the pair of default wins.
DiBella said he hopes his team won’t be in a position to lose the Neil Murdoch Division title at the end of the season because of the lost two points.
“That’s what we have to live with. It’s up to us to control what we can control. We can’t control the officials, we can’t control the league, we can’t control the players on the other team, but we can control what we do.”