Northmen Checked By MHSAA

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Northmen victims of senseless ruling from MHSAA

Editor Opinion – Joseph Kolodziej

Character, control, and confidence. Three traits every Petoskey player will need this evening.

That was my opening to yesterdays opinion piece. I was so looking forward to watching Petoskey and Traverse City last night that it was primary on my mind most of the day.

So imagine my surprise when I arrive at the rink to find out that the Michigan High School Athletic Association had suspended three Northmen players for one of the worst rule interpretations I have seen since I could speak.

The story is so mind blowing that it deserves to be told.

High school hockey takes a break over the holiday season, families travel and celebrate in their customary ways. This is as it should be, no government interference, no over sight from "the man" as kids say.

So when parents, brothers, cousins, and neighbors decide to play some 4 on 4 hockey at the local rink while on break all should be well, shouldnt it? I mean it is just a gathering of people in a community that have grown up together playing a non-checking, non-sanctioned, non-rostered, last minute event that was not advertised, was not open to the public for registration, and was invite only within a group of family and friends. No one was hurt, no trophies were provided, and everyone had fun playing together. After all, "fun" was the only purpose for this event.

Remember that this closed, non-competitive event took place over three weeks ago.

Last night, the MHSAA handed down three, three game suspensions for players participating in this "fun" event. MHSAA has the audacity to say this this event, non-rostered, non-sanctioned, and closed participation is to be considered competition in violation of MHSAA rules!

By MHSAA definition, any time there are four or more skaters and two goalies on the ice it is a violation of MHSAA rules! So, if I had an ice rink and had my family over playing pick up with 10 people over the holidays, MHSAA could suspend any High School player that participated! This is the most incredible interpretation of rules that I have seen in my entire career. Yes, this is actually the decision making body controlling Michigan High School Hockey, and they wonder aloud every year why the best players typically do not play within MHSAA.

MSHAA has said, "why dont we have a system like Minnesota?". Well, this is an example of why.

So roughly 30 minutes before dropping the puck on what was to be the biggest game in Northmen hockey history, the MSHAA makes its ruling, deflates the entire team, the entire town that turned out to watch, and in effect ruined any chance for the Northmen to capture a regular season title. Three weeks ago this event took place, no objections were filed by any team that would have played against the Northmen, and everyone knew it was a non competition event.

According to the MSHAA rule, no player on a Michigan High School team can on a day or weekend off, go to their local arena and participate in drop in hockey if there are more than three players involved and if there is more than one goaltender. So it would seem that much of the MHSAA hockey program will soon suffer the same fate, because as a governing body they must fairly enforce rules.

MSHAA, I am calling on you to investigate every player in the state on every team in order to enforce this rule fairly. Failure to enforce the rule in a fair manner is a violation of your own rules.

The spirit and interpretation of the rule is to keep players from being dual rostered on teams throughout the season. It is not intended to keep people from playing or practicing hockey.

The MHSAA can reverse its decision. An educated person in an unbiased manner viewing this issue would say this is clearly an improper ruling. Unfortunately though the bell can not be completely un rung. Championship dreams were dashed last night, how do you fix that, how do you explain to a player that "we made a mistake" on one of the biggest nights of their hockey careers? "OOOOPS" is not an excuse excepted at High School, and in administration it should not even be a word in their vocabulary.

MHSAA if you are not embarrassed, dont worry there are many of us that are embarrassed for you.

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