As the UTM tri-campus men’s hockey team prepared for a trip to the finals, they were surprised to receive an email from league officials informing them of their elimination.
After defeating St. George Red in a 5–1 victory in the semifinal game on Monday, March 4 and moving to the championship game to face Scarborough, the team was shocked to hear of their disqualification due to a technicality.
“No one on our team or staff was aware of this rule change,” said Rory Bourgeois, a player on the tri-campus team.
The rule, which cost the team a shot at the championship, related to player registration. A player on the UTM tri-campus team had been registered for only three regular season games; this used to be the minimum in the 2011/12 season, but the minimum was since changed to four pre-playoffs games.
The player in question is Zach Zubac, who joined UTM in the second semester and played the minimum four games required to be eligible for the playoffs. However, in one of the team’s games against U of T Scarborough, Zubac was running late and didn’t have the opportunity to officially check in with his T-Card. This minor error prevented the team from advancing to the finals.
“I feel bad that the other guys can’t play the last game because of my mistake,” said Zubac. “I wasn’t entirely aware of the rules and the minimum game requirement. If I had known it was four, I wouldn’t have played.”
Zubac’s unfortunate mistake has not earned him any hostility from his fellow teammates; rather, he has received immense support from the players and staff.
“This wasn’t his fault,” said Kyle Kuczynski, a third-year centre on the team. “Most of the guys never sign the sheet. Usually they ask us to sign the sheet if there is some discrepancy with the players.”
Because the team was not aware of the rule’s implementation before the start of the season, they are frustrated to have been disqualified on its account.
“UTM is not represented properly when it comes to athletics. This is no fault of UTMAC or our RAWC staff; it’s on U of T for not giving us proper information and enforcing ridiculous rules like this one,” Kuczynski added. “We do not get contacted about these rule changes.”
Kuczynski plans on fighting the ruling by creating the UTM Hockey Players’ Association along with other members of the team in order to represent themselves. “Our team has been affected [by] these stupid rules, and it has cost us a championship,” he said.