Sylvan Lake Admirals actually finished the season in the number one spot, according to documents recently released to Chinook Hockey League teams.
Although Lloydminster plays in the Chinook Hockey League, it registers players in Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association does not require senior hockey teams to verify players until Jan 10th, so teams from Saskatchewan are not under the same scrutiny as teams from Alberta.
Once the season was over it took some time to get all the documents for the Lloydminster Border Kings but once they were in, it was discovered that on several occasions, an illegal roster of players had been played.
The normal situation to an illegal roster in Alberta, is the loss of the game points and generally, a suspension of a coach for a period of time.
Lloydminster joined the Chinook League in 2008-2009 and finished in fifth place in their inaugural season. 2009-2010 saw them finish fourth, 2010-2011 sixth and 2011-2012 they vaulted to the top spot, or so it seemed. Now that the actual documentation of the roster can be verified, the Border Kings actually finished fifth.
The greatest change in standings affected Sylvan Lake Admirals who finished third in the standings but after recalculating the points, were actually in first place. The change in points also affected four other teams in the league but because all changes were somewhat equal, there were only two teams that changed position standings. Lloydminster went from first to fifth and Sylvan Lake from third to first.
When the 2011-2012 season ended it showed Lloydminster 40 points, Bentley 32 points, Sylvan Lake 28 points, Stony Plain 28 points (advantage Sylvan Lake), Fort Saskatchewan 26 points, Carstairs 16 points and Innisfail 4 points.
After points had been removed for illegal rosters the standings were, Sylvan Lake 34 points, Bentley 32 points, Stony Plain 32 points (advantage Bentley), Fort Saskatchewan 26 points, Lloydminster 22 points, Carstairs 20 points and Innisfail 8 points.
Additionally the Sylvan Lake Admirals lost two playoff games against the Lloydminster Border Kings, with the Kings sporting an illegal roster. Ways are now being explored to stop teams from other provinces playing in the Chinook League without being able to properly verify player rosters.
“It’s not just the points,” commented Admirals coach and general manager Jason Stephens. “It’s all the other things that go with it, like home ice advantage, travel advantage, player confidence, the ability to recruit better players because you’re a contender and just plain and simple bragging rights.
“As managers and coaches, we all abide by the same set of standards and one would hope ethics. The Chinook League office, other Chinook League teams and Hockey Alberta are constantly monitoring every Chinook League player registration, to make sure we follow the senior hockey guidelines.
“Any coach or GM in the Chinook League knows the consequences for trying to pull a fast one and the basic rules haven’t changed in a while, so pleading ignorance to rules doesn’t cut it.
“I’m not going to suggest that we would have had any better fate than how we ended in playoffs, as injuries to key players cost us a lot, but it sure would have been nice to find out. We felt all along that we were right on the edge of breaking through and it is gratifying to know how close we really were,” Stephens said.
“The season is over, what’s past is past, and nothing is going to change it now. It’s just good knowing that in three short seasons we have managed to take this Sylvan Lake team from being the doormat of the league to being in the hunt. We’re not there yet but were competitive and knocking on the door of being a contender. We look forward to the challenge.”