Richard Montgomery High School's co-op ice hockey team was disqualified from playoff contention after it was discovered it was incorrectly playing as a co-op team.
Co-op teams, classified as Class 1A teams, may not have more than 13 players from one school, which allows them to draw from several schools to create one team. During a pre-playoff roster check on Monday morning, Maryland Student Hockey League commissioner Joe LaCour discovered that the Richard Montgomery co-op had 21 Richard Montgomery High School players available to play on the varsity and junior varsity teams, which would have required them to play as a Class 2A team this season. Class 2A teams are made up of only players from one high school.
The Richard Montgomery co-op also has players from Rockville High School and Col. Zadok A. Magruder High School. Co-ops are formed by schools in contiguous school districts. Each season, Class 1A and Class 2A teams are realigned.
“We put these things in place to prevent teams from stacking,” LaCour said. “It's unfortunate. I feel sorry for the kids. They worked their tails off and they had a very good record. It's a shame that because of an administration error by the team they can't compete.”
Richard Montgomery finished in first place in the Montgomery Hockey Conference 1A Division with a 9-4 record. The D.C. Stars, which finished third at 6-5 and is comprised of students from Washington, D.C., public schools, will be replacing them.
“I got a phone call saying that — my understanding is that they are forfeiting their 10 [league] games, which puts us in,” D.C. Stars coach Clyde Thomas said. “I'm happy that we're still playing this season, especially for our seniors who put a lot of effort into the season.”
LaCour was performing a routine check for the Class 1A playoffs on Monday to make sure all suspensions were served and to ensure no other rules were violated. He noticed that the Rockets had several players from Richard Montgomery High School and, after a count, saw that they were over the allotted amount of roster spaces.
After checking with Richard Montgomery coach Paul Lofgren, also the commissioner of Montgomery Hockey Conference, it was determined this was a misinterpretation of the rules which would result in a disqualification.
“Even if we found it in December, would that have changed the outcome? I don't think so,” LaCour said. “I've had two days to reflect on it and once the season started, we couldn't ask them to kick eight kids off of the team. I don't know when the tipping point was, but it was probably very early in the season.”
Attempts to reach Lofgren were unsuccessful.