In bizarre scenario, Idaho hockey tournament's top seed banned from playing

In bizarre scenario, Idaho hockey tournament's top seed banned from playing

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In bizarre scenario, Idaho hockey tournament's top seed banned from playing

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In a bizarre circumstance, a top-seeded boys hockey team in Idaho has received an unprecedented penalty, banning it from participating in the state tournament.

According to EastIdahoNews.com, Idaho Falls was seeded first for the state competition that starts Friday morning, but will not be participating if the Idaho Amateur Hockey Association doesn’t reverse its decision.

The team’s infraction? Backing out of a national competition earlier this week.

“This isn’t just about playing your final game in front of a home crowd, it’s about life lessons,” Jim DiSanza, IAHA vice president, told EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s about following through with your commitments, not taking the easy way out.”

DiSanza told the website that the sanction was a direct result of the local team backing out of a national competition. The team had previously committed to participate in the USA Hockey Nation High School Tournament, but according to parents, after further reading of the rules, there were a number of Idaho Fallas players not eligible to play, including their two goalies.

With hockey not being a sanctioned high school sport in Idaho, the Idaho Falls team is considered a club sport, with players on the team attending other schools.

Parents and coaches tell EastIdahoNews.com the disqualifying factors were not known at the time the team paid the $1,500 deposit to enter the national competition.

“I want to make it clear that this isn’t the kids’ fault,” Tom Jones, parent to one of the players, said. “We’ve had several of the volunteers offer to resign over this because we, the adults, recognize it was our mistake, not the kids’.”

DiSanza tried to get across that backing out of the national competition could adversely affect all hockey teams in Idaho, as the national committee will decide a sanction later this year.

“We are trying to head off any statewide sanction imposed by the national committee,” DiSanza told EastIdahoNews.com. “It could go one of two ways: They ban every team in the state for three years from participating in national competitions, or we present our sanction to them, hoping it suffices, and they leave it alone.”

DiSanza added that the Idaho Falls team appealed the decision to suspend them from the state tournament, but that the vote had come back 17-0 in favor of upholding the suspension. He said the IAHA contacted the USA Hockey office, and it supported the suspension.

The team has 11 seniors, many who have played hockey for more than 10 years.

“If we would have known how severe the consequences were going to be, we would have never backed out,” Coleson Dobson, an Idaho Falls forward, said. “We just want to play — it’s our last year.”

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