Flyers forced from NPHL final after roster mixup

After a miraculous come-from-behind series win, including erasing a 3-0 deficit in game seven of the NPHL semi-final, the Fort St. John Senior Flyers dreams of a league title are over. 

The announcement was a somber one on Monday night, as general manager Lee Hartman explained that the team used a 26th player after the limit of 25 had been set for the NPHL playoffs.

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After a miraculous come-from-behind series win, including erasing a 3-0 deficit in game seven of the North Peace Hockey League semi-final, the Fort St. John Senior Flyers dreams of a league title are over.

The announcement was a somber one on Monday night, as general manager Lee Hartman explained that the team used a 26th player after the limit of 25 had been set for the NPHL playoffs.

"It was our mistake that we put a 26th guy into the lineup. All our guys are regular players that have played all year for us. It’s just our mistake that we overstepped by one player so we defaulted the last game which cost us the series,” Hartman said from inside North Peace Arena.

After the league imposed Feb. 10  player deadline, Jeff Fast was the 26th player to play for the Flyers in game seven against Grimshaw.

"Upon further discussion it is the ruling of the NPHL that Fort St. John forfeit Game 7 due to an illegal player, and also forfeits the series to Grimshaw,” A release from league president Jack McAvoy said.

In part the error comes as teams in B.C. are allowed 30 carded players, but the NPHL rules, comprised of mostly teams from Alberta, only allows a 25-man roster.

“We should have known better. Been with the team three years and it’s a hard lesson, but we’ll move on and we’ve got provincials to go and defend our Coy Cup and we’ll get back at it next year,” Hartman said.

The GM explained after the stats were compiled by the league on Saturday night, the mistake was easy to see and the team was made aware of what had happened Monday.

“After the stats came out Saturday, after the final game against Grimshaw, it was pretty easy to see that there were too many guys on our roster,” he said.

Every player in the Flyers game seven lineup played at least three or more games in the playoffs and suited up for that many games in the regular season.

“Our guys are legal, there is no ineligible player,” Hartman added to quell speculation that a non-roster player might have been brought in for game seven.

For the Flyers players and the coaching staff, the feeling is heartbreak and disappointment.

“At the end of the day our guys have put in a lot of effort and played so hard this year and this could have been our year, no question,” head coach Andrew Leriger said.

“They know it, I know it, it’s just unfortunately…circumstances, we made a mistake and now we need to move on… there’s no question it stings.”

Ultimately, the team brass took responsibility for the mistake.

"We had a monster comeback and we had a lot of momentum. We have a good group of kids playing and they’re heartbroken, no one feels worse than the executive,” Hartman added.

After a league ruling Monday, it was determined the Grimshaw Huskies will move on to face the Spirit River Rangers in the NPHL final.

The focus for the Flyers will now turn to the Coy Cup, as Fort St. John is the defending champion at the B.C. Senior AA level.

“We have three weeks before we go to Terrace so the guys will have this week off,” Leriger said. “Much needed rest. Starting next week we will get back on the ice and run two or three practices a week.”

sports@ahnfsj.ca

© Copyright 2018 Alaska Highway News

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