This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Detroit Lakes Youth Hockey Association Bantam A Hockey tournament at Kent Freeman Arena. It could have been a great tournament, had it not been marred by a couple of very troubling issues.
- The tournament brackets were set in advance, with the top seed set to play on the "good" home ice (Arena 1) on Sunday morning.
However, on Saturday night, an influential booster-whiner-parent of a DL player(s) decided they wanted DL to play in Arena 1 on Sunday morning, even though they were not the top seed.
So, they had the brackets re-written under the cover of darkness to force the top seed to play in the other arena on Sunday, so that DL could play in Arena 1.
That was so petty, unsportsmanlike and unprofessional that I'm ashamed to say that I'm from Detroit Lakes after seeing this happen. Some of these kids and their parents traveled 300 miles one-way, stayed in our hotels, dined in our restaurants, etc., and you pulled this on them?!
- Perhaps even more atrocious was the officiating. In speaking with one of the parents, I found out that early in the tournament, during a face-off, one of the linesmen told the boys "you better behave, because I don't f...ing want to be here." I wasn't in the face-off circle, but I find it hard to believe that the parent would lie. I don't need to tell you that this is a bad attitude to have, not to mention a poor example to set.
I realize the pay isn't much, so the main reason a person should be doing it is because they like it. Whoever this guy is, he obviously doesn't like doing it, so he shouldn't be.
Let's go on to the horrendous officiating itself. There were many dubious calls and non-calls throughout the weekend, but they really outdid themselves in the championship game. Two goals scored by Dodge County were disallowed because of the obscure call of "in the crease." I have video evidence of the first goal, and no player was even near the crease!
The second time, a player was only in the crease because he was pushed in there by the opposing player as the goal was scored - which does not disqualify the goal!
Then there were the penalties. At least two-thirds of the penalties were called on Dodge County, yet Anoka was the bigger, more physical team, and committed as many, if not more penalties that were not called.
However, in spite of the officiating, the talent and speed of Dodge County prevailed, and they handily won the championship.
It finally dawned on me as to why the championship was officiated this way. Sunday morning when the "altered" brackets were unveiled, the Dodge County coaches went to the "powers that be" and complained about getting shifted to the secondary arena - as well they should have. They had earned the top seed and the right to play in the prime spot (Arena 1) and out of the blue, "someone" decided to boot them to the old ice.
Then came my "aha" moment (conspiracy theory at its finest!) - the officials were obviously in cahoots with the same people who altered the brackets! So, they knew that DC had complained about getting dumped on, and they were going to do all they could to teach them a lesson!
There you have it folks - on the surface a good tournament, but to the visiting teams and hockey purists, it reeks of small-town politics and cronyism. Minnesota may be the "state of hockey," however, at this point in time, Detroit Lakes cannot count itself as a shining beacon of a town that makes up this "state."
The Detroit Lakes Youth Hockey Association needs an overhaul of its leadership if it wants to move forward and entice anyone to return in the future, as DL has given itself a black eye after this tournament. I know this personally from speaking with parents from multiple visiting teams.