The Delta Ice Hawks have won their appeal of a league ruling that saw the team forfeit four regular season games for having an “ineligible” player on its roster.
With the playoffs already in full swing, the Ice Hawks now move into first place overall for the Pacific Junior Hockey League regular season ahead of the Langley Trappers.
The Ice Hawks launched their appeal of the PJHL’s decision on Feb. 9, three weeks after the league announced an investigation had confirmed the Ice Hawks rostered an ineligible player in four of its recent victories: against the Surrey Knights on Dec. 29, the Richmond Sockeyes on Jan. 1, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Jan. 3 and the Chilliwack Jets on Jan. 10.
The league did not specify at the time which player had been ineligible or why.
In a statement on Jan. 21, the team explained the PJHL’s investigation stemmed from the Ice Hawks reporting a registration error to the BC Hockey office.
According to the team’s statement, the transfer of an affiliate player was approved in the registration system by the minor hockey association, the PJHL and BC Hockey, but the player’s name was not posted to the Ice Hawks’ affiliate’s roster.
“In light of the system error, BC Hockey submitted a ticket to the registration system’s IT support. The findings from the ticket are still pending,” the team said in its statement.
On Feb. 9, the Ice Hawks issued a press release saying the team was appealing the PJHL’s decision in light of new information it had received from Hockey Canada.
The release states that prior to the PJHL’s decision, the Ice Hawks had communicated with BC Hockey to determine why the team management software had not properly added the player to the team’s electronic roster.
“Since the PJHL ruling, the Ice Hawks have now received further information from Hockey Canada confirming that there was a technical issue with the Hockey Canada software that led to the issues with respect to the player’s registration,” the release states.
“The Delta Ice Hawks have provided this new information to BC Hockey as part of an appeal filed with BC Hockey, seeking to have the PJHL ruling reconsidered. The Ice Hawks are hoping to have a decision from BC Hockey in the coming days.”
The Ice Hawks also noted that the player in question had played in the PJHL in each of the last two seasons, and that it was the team’s understanding that he had been properly registered with Hockey Canada and the PJHL before playing for Delta this season.
In an update posted to the team’s website on Wednesday (Feb. 22), the Ice Hawks reported that the BC Hockey Appeal Committee had decided to restore the team’s wins on Dec. 29, Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, while upholding the league’s decision to vacate the Ice Hawks’ win on Jan. 10.
“The Ice Hawks would like to thank BC Hockey and its appeal committee for their prompt attention to this matter, and are pleased with the outcome,” the team said in Wednesday’s update.
“The Ice Hawks also appreciated the support the team received from the hockey community while waiting for this decision and would like to thank its legal counsel, Michael Shirreff and Greg Cavouras of Sugden, McFee & Roos LLP, who represented the Ice Hawks in the appeal.”
As of Friday afternoon (Feb. 24), BC Hockey’s decision had yet to be reflected in the regular season standings on the PJHL’s website.
However, the additional six points awarded for those three wins should give Delta a season total of 76, matching Langley, and the three wins should give the Ice Hawks a league-leading 38, giving them the edge over the Trappers in the standings.
Even before Wednesday’s decision, the Ice Hawks sat in first place in the Tom Shaw Conference and led the league in most goals scored (256) and also fewest goals allowed (110).
Delta is currently facing off against the Grandview Steelers in the first round of the PJHL playoffs. That series is tied 1-1, with the Ice Hawks grinding out a 5-4 overtime victory at home in Ladner on Tuesday before falling 0-1 to the Steelers on Wednesday at the Burnaby Winter Club.
Game three gets underway Sunday (Feb. 26) at 7:15 p.m. in Burnaby.
— with files from Tom Zillich
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