Hockey Calgary responds after playoff game coin toss enrages parents

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Hockey Calgary says it’s “truly disappointed” and is apologizing to those affected after a decision in a big game between the Calgary Buffalo Wranglers and Calgary Royals came down to the flip of a coin due to ice time running out Saturday night. But the organization says the coin toss rule has been in place for the Bantam AA playoff tournament for the previous four seasons.

“We are fortunate that they have never been enacted,” executive director Kevin Kolbeka said in a statement Monday.

READ MORE: Calgary hockey parents outraged by playoff game decided by coin toss at Winsport

The game was held at WinSport at 7 p.m. and was one of many games being played as part of the AA City Championships.

Royals head coach Jarvis Bender said the game was tied and came down to a three player shootout but when no one scored, they had a coin toss.

“The toughest part for me was to tell 19 teenagers that all their hard work and dedication for the season was decided not by their skill but by a coin toss,” Bender told Global News in a previous interview. “The crowd was chanting, ‘Let the boys play!’ and they were obviously very upset.”

Watch below: A Calgary Bantam AA team is devastated this weekend, after their season ended because of a coin toss. Lisa MacGregor explains what happened.

Hockey Calgary said it doesn’t own or control ice time within facilities in and around the city, but does its best to schedule ice time so that its 14,500 members have appropriate access. The organization’s rules state if teams remain tied during playoffs, an Elite Council official has the authority to stop or extend overtime depending on the availability of ice.

The rules allow hockey games to go into 10 minutes of overtime but Bender believes there was an error made when their ice time was booked. WinSport was asked to extend the time to finish the shootout, but Bender said they wouldn’t budge due to a game scheduled afterwards.

“Generally our partner arenas are very supportive and provide us some leeway in this process if we happen to extend,” Kobelka said, but called Saturday a perfect storm. He wrote:

  1. Game ended in a tie.
  2. No time remained on the permit.
  3. A tournament representative at the event had been in conversation with arena management most of Friday regarding other scheduling issues and completion time for quarter/semi-finals. The tournament representative was told by WinSport arena management that we would NOT be permitted to go one minute past our permit time, as other paying members had priority and must start on time.
  4. The game ended at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, with the winner scheduled to play in semi-final at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
  5. By Hockey Alberta rules, a provincial representative from Calgary had to be declared by end of day Sunday, March 19 to represent us at the Provincial Championships, therefore not providing us the ability to delay games, and re-schedule.

He said the tournament rep followed the Elite Council rules, which was relayed to all coaches before the game started.

“Much like the players, coaches, fans and other members of the Calgary community we are extremely dismayed on how this game concluded,” Kobelka wrote. “It once again raises the issue of the lack of ice that is available in our community at peak times.”

He said Hockey Calgary will continue to try to “improve the system and avoid having a similar situation unfold in the future.”

Global News will update this story with WinSport’s response as soon as possible.

With files from Global’s Tracy Nagai

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