SIX NATIONS – The use of an ineligible player cost the defending Minto Cup champions their first place finish in the Jr. A regular season standings. A similar situation cost the Sr. B Rivermen a game as well.
Although Junior A league commissioner Dean McLeod believes the Arrows did not intentionally do anything wrong, rules are rules and the Arrows had to forfeit four wins.
“There will be the perception that the Arrows cheated, but they did not,” McLeod said of the incident, adding, “It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my position.”
McLeod blamed a “lack of transparency” on the part of the Jr. B London Blue Devils, which bled through to the Jr. A ranks.
The Jr. A Arrows called up Oliver Bolsterli from the London Blue Devils of the Jr. B’s. As an unaffiliated player, he was allowed by league rules to play as an unaffiliated player in a maximum of seven games, which he did early in the season. He did not score in any of those games in which the Arrows won five and lost two.
The trouble is, Bolsterli was not a registered player with London at all until after their dismal 0-20 season ended. That meant the Arrows were dressing an unregistered player and didn’t know it. And even then, London only did so for the purpose of releasing him and to get the transfer fee from the Six Nations Rebels.
Because he actually was registered by the time he last suited up, that game was not taken away and so they forfeited four instead of five games.
The ripple effect was league wide and changed the final standings and playoff matchups.
The forfeits allowed the Orangeville Northmen to vault past the Arrows and take first place with a 15-5 record.
The forfeits reduced the Arrows first-place regular season record of 18-2-0 to second place 14-6-0.
It shakes out this way — the two points KW gain from their forfeit win against Six Nations broke a seventh place tie with the St. Catharines Athletics as the teams fight for the final playoff spots.
The ruling also put Peterborough back into playoff picture. With their two forfeit points, they are 6-13, putting them a single point behind the Athletics. The Lakers could jump into eighth spot.
The Arrows has appealed the ruling and McLeod says an OLA appeal board will be convened early next week so that the matter can be dealt with by the time the regular season ends next Wednesday. Playoffs will start after the world U19 field lacrosse championships in British Columbia wrap up on July 17.