ONALASKA, Wis. - It's a meeting these Avalanche seniors will never forget.
"Coach sat us down and told us I got some bad news to tell you guys," Avalanche senior Jack Anderholm said.
"I got a little emotional," said Avalanche senior Ryan Weber.
"Then all of a sudden, he dropped the bomb and said yeah, we're out of the playoffs," said Anderholm.
The Aquinas/Holmen Co-op is one of six teams in Wisconsin disqualified from the playoffs for a rule that began in 1987: three checking from behind penalties equals a postseason disqualification.
"There's definitely no place for that in the game, but there definitely needs to be a change in the rule," Anderholm said.
"It needs to be enforced, but I don't think it should be enforced where it penalizes the team," said Weber.
But if teams aren't punished, what is the best way to make the game safer?18523098
"Look at the Minnesota rule. That would be our first choice," Avalanche Head Coach Tim Franzini said.
The MSHSL aims to penalize individuals as opposed to teams. Players get an immediate ejection for that game and the next on their first penalty. They get a four game suspension for their second strike. Third strike: that player is done for the year.
If not the Minnesota penalty, Franzini proposes increasing the number from three to five or six for a team playoff disqualification. He says a rule that was created to protect the safety of players instead protects teams that are on the verge of getting its third strike.
Officials knew we had two and no matter what happened, they weren't going to call a check from behind in that game," Franzini said. That means the rule is flawed. They weren't protecting the kids that night. They were looking out and trying to protect us.
The WIAA defends its policy by pointing to soccer. Twenty-four yellow cards over the course of a season disqualifies a team from the playoffs.
"Soccer has red cards and yellow cards as well that affect a team," said WIAA Associate Director Tom Shafranski.
"Different sports, different paces, a lot more physical in hockey," Weber said.
The WIAA says it will listen to proposals as to how to modify its rule. Franzini says he is drafting a letter with his recommendations. But that won't change anything for this season.
"One of our goals was to win conference, we accomplished that. One of our goals was to be a top 3 seed, we accomplished that. Our next goal was to win sectional and to represent sectional at state, and that got taken away from us," Franzini said.