Obscure Rules (and a Tie) Keep Prep Team From Semis of Invitational

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A scene from the 2019 Northwood Invitational (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge).

The prep team went 2-1-1 in the 40th Annual Northwood Invitational Tournament held at the Olympic Center and were kept out of the semi-finals because of a tournament rule that many players didn’t know about until the preliminary games were over.

In the first game, Northwood beat the NH Avalanche 2-0 with an empty net goal. John Biechler (Forward, 2019) and Owen Allard (Forward, 2022) scored goals and Wyatt Friedlander ‘19 earned the shutout in goal, which included a penalty shot save with the game tied at zero with ten minutes remaining.

The second game they faced North Broward Prep. The Huskies couldn’t generate much offense and the game ended in a surprising 1-1 tie. Tristan Allard (Forward, 2020) scored for the Huskies and Johan Tremblay-Kau ‘22 kept them in the game in net. The tie against North Broward Prep would prove to be critically important to the Huskies’ tournament.

The third game was against the Islanders Hockey Club, a rematch from a league game loss on Friday that was separate from the tournament. Northwood was badly outshot and lost 5-3. Carson Hall (Forward, 2022), Aleksei Rutkovski (Forward. 2019) and Connor Reid (Forward, 2019) scored for the Huskies and Friedlander made 25 saves in net.

The Huskies were in 4th place overall in the Prep Division consisting of ten teams. The team thought they were in possession of the last spot in semi-finals with a chance to win the tournament. The boys were excited to be able to play for their trophy and continue the weekend.

The excitement would fade fast as the team learned that winning the championship would be impossible – thanks to an obscure division ruling. According to the rules, there were actually two subdivisions in the Prep bracket, even though the website that players and coaches were following closely only showed one. Even the printed program showed only one division. The subdivisions included Group A with six teams, including Northwood. Group B had only four teams. The Huskies were fourth overall but third in Group A. Only the top two teams in each group played in the semi-finals, leaving Northwood with only a consolation game.

If the Huskies had beaten (instead of tied) North Broward Prep, they would have been tied for second in their group with the Avalanche. Tournament tie-break procedures would have had the Huskies advance to the semi-finals because of their earlier victory over the Avalanche in preliminary play.

Brackets

Tournament Divisions and Groupings that were shared with coaches and team officials before the tournament but not included in the official tournament program or reflected on standings posted on the tournament website, http://www.gamecapsule.tv.

Athletic Director Mr. Gino Riffle said, “having five teams each in two brackets is a scheduling disaster,” which is why he decided to have two divisions of different sizes. “The rules and schedules were made two weeks before the actual tournament,” he added.

Trevor Souza ’19 said, “It was a rough go for the team. I wish the outcome was different, but there is no changing it now.”

In the consolation game, the Huskies took out their frustration out on the Middlesex Bears in Saranac Lake, winning 5-3. Goals were scored by Tristan Allard (Forward, 2020), Trent Seger (Forward, 2020), Alex Ray (Forward, 2019) and two by Brendan Merriman (Forward, 2021). Kyle bavis made ten saves en route to the win with Lukas Klemm backing up.

The players were not consoled by that outcome. The whole team was furious because they had no idea there were two groups and a fourth place overall finish wouldn’t guarantee a place in the semis. It seems as if none of the teams in the tournament were clear about who made the semi-finals until a meeting of tournament officials and coaches clarified the standings.

 

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