April 27, 1979

For the second time in two years fighting has hampered the Archbishop Carroll team in its quest for a championship in the sport of ice hockey.

The innocent bystander this time was William Tennent, getting word late Thursday that the Carroll team voted to forfeit it’s game with the Panthers which was originally scheduled for 9:30 Thursday night.

Because of Tuesday night’s all-out brawl with Archbishop Ryan, the Lower Bucks League champions, five Carroll players were suspended along with coach Gary Vetre, whose only crime impersonating a Woody Hayes and going out on the ice to slug a Ryan player, Dennis Harrison, did not do his impression of a punch bag instead pummeled Vetre repeatedly for what seemed like several minutes before being pulled away.

The triumvirate which rules scholastic hockey in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Andy Richards (Suburban League), Charlie Judge (Lower bucks) and Jack Hunt (Inter-County) could find little sympathy for Vetre and Carroll and flatly denied a request that the suspensions, which are for the balance of the Eastern Regionals, be reviewed. Furthermore, the three ruled that Carroll must post a $300 performance bond by 1pm, Saturday, should it decide to exercise its right to participate in Sunday’s 11:30am championship game.

Last year Carroll, a team honed to near perfect since the crawling stages on Ed Van Impe’s Radnor Rink, was denied permission by its own principal to go to the state championships because of problems stemming from a fight during the league season.

“It’s a shame,” Tennent coach Rich Boerner said. “The whole thing is a shame. Other than Carroll. I think it (the tournament) is going well.” That, though, is like saying that, other than the accident, things are going well at Three-Mile Island.

Now, Tennent has a game with Malvern Prep – a team it lost to, 6-5, on Tuesday night. It will be played at the Lafayette, Skating Rink (YMCA Rink) in King of Prussia at 1pm on Saturday. Since both teams have one loss (Malvern was bombed, 7-1, by Ryan) in the double-elimination tournament. The winner will play Carroll for the championship on Sunday morning (11:30) at Lafayette.

The tournament has had its share of problems, including all three leagues going back on their agreement to end their respective seasons by March 1, no formal pairing announced in the playoffs, a controversy between Tennent and Carroll over whether or not to play during the Easter holidays and, finally, the tournament directors bending for Carroll and postponing the tournament by two weeks in order to let it participate. Because the regular seasons extended well into March, southeastern Pennsylvania – believed to be one of the two strongest hockey areas in the “state” tournament in Erie.

But Richards, the Suburban League president, expects that all have learned a lesson from the recent misfortunes.

“I’m really an optimistic person,” he said. “Every time something negative happens, something positive comes out of it. I know there are already plans for next season and that a major sponsor, something which we’ve been trying to get, might be forthcoming. That would alleviate any financial problem the tournament might have. There is also some talk about the Flyers and the Penguins becoming involved in helping in the organization of the state tournament.”

Meanwhile, the region is faced with the fascinating phenomenon of playing a championship game in which one team has only the minimal number of players available. Carroll will have only six eligible players if it decides to play Sunday. It could be the first iron-man effort in the history of hockey. Carroll is so good, though, some have speculated that it could build an early lead and just dump the puck out of its own zone the rest of the game. But it could make the whole question academic by voting to forfeit again on Sunday. And the innocent bystander in this whole situation could be Tennent. If it were to win on Saturday. The recipient of a championship by default that it would much rather earn on the ice.

CREDIT: Doylestown Daily Intelligencer