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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Second Fort Vancouver Ruling on the Horizon

A hearing took place this morning to determine if USA Hockey will pile on any additional sanctions on Fort Vancouver. This could go several directions. The first and most obvious is that based on the allegations the team paid players the franchise will be denied entry at Nationals and have their certification revoked. In the other direction, USA Hockey could do nothing, or even I suppose go so far as to overturn the settlement agreement made between the Pioneers and the NorPac. Clearly USA Hockey has an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and make a statement. They have up to five days to make a decision and deliver a ruling, so while it could come down as early as today, it might wait until after the conclusion of the Cascade Cup Finals.

My money is on the upholding of the NorPac agreement, certification revocation at the conclusion of the season, and any players determined to have been paid suspended for the remainder of the season.


Comments on "Second Fort Vancouver Ruling on the Horizon"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:39 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

I think that marc's take is very fair but the issue of Nationals could very much be a problem since losing a bunch of, I'm assuming, their better players would adversely affect their competitiveness at Nat'ls should they make it there.

For what it's worth, there is no way these players didn't know that taking actual money wasn't wrong. They have been dreaming of college hockey for years and being so close to Canada know exactly what is or isn't allowed in that area.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:35 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

i agree with all of you,If nothing happens. It just shows how deep this really is. "The only way to make this right is to start the play-offs over." Do you agree?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:20 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

I hope that USA hockey does the right thing. Whatever they decide is the "right" thing, they have to consider that it sets a standard for all the teams regardless of where they play.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:53 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

A stiff fine does nothing to a rich person. The damage has been done. To make it right for all players, all teams must start the play-offs over. Its the only way to make it honest and right.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:05 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Starting the playoffs over is not feasible, as it would apply only to the Pacific division of Norpac, as there is no allegation of misconduct on the part of any of the Mountain Division's several teams, and those playoffs are over.

As to a "redo" for the Pacific Division, this would be a new "best of 5" for the top 4 teams (whether Ft VAn counts as one of them or not) so up to 10 games could be required before a new team is identified to proceed to the finals. Then another Best of Five for the Cascade Cup to determine who goes to Nationals. All these games would need to be scheduled, travel arrangements made, recalling players who think their season is over and went home --- just not a reasonable proposition.
Of course, since there are only 13 days until nationals,---?

Even if it were done with some 2 a day games played, the ultimate winner would go to Nationals with noodles for legs and get blown out.

Just can't reasonably be done.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:46 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Anyone notice that Tim O'Neal's bio has been taken off the Fort Vancouver website?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:08 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Joe's quote from the Columbian newspaper in Fort Van.

Loftgren said the Pioneers have not broken NORPAC or USA Hockey rules by compensating players, nor has the team jeopardized the college eligibility.

"No player has ever been paid in the two years under (this) ownership to play for the Fort Vancouver Pioneers," Loftgren said. "There has been sponsorships. There has been scholarships. There has been tuition assistance to players."

Definitely not a person I would trust.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:47 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Tim O'Neal never had a bio on the website. Only his name and his photo was present. I know this because I made an effort to look for it through out the season. When my son played for the Pioneers last season, Tim was not head coach until later in the season so we as parents never bothered ourselves with his credentials. Once he weaseled his way into the head coaching position, I made it my business to investigate what experience he had to be coaching at a Junior B level. We found out nothing about his hockey background that made him credible. My guess is, he doesn't have anything too impressive to post compared to the other gentlemen who share the coaching bench with him so they didn't post anything. I think the man is scum and deserves nothing better than to be ran straight out of hockey all together! I am laughing at what is taking place and hoping that more is handed down. He and Joe both deserve it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:38 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Joe is scum and is a creep! How anyone can trust him is foolish. He screws over more people then helps. He was not trying to help any players, he just wanted to win! He is a liar and I am glad my kid is not playing for him. And I am especially glad that he won't be close to my kid again.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:50 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Don't expect USA Hockey to do the right thing or show any backbone - they've already bypassed Michigan district by allowing BT midget major in - so son't expect them to do anything in the face of legal threats. USA Hockey doesn't have the balls to do the right thing...great messages they are sending.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:00 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

The Poineers looked sharp on Monday night. It was the first time I've watched this year and the breakout passing was something to watch.

There were plenty of fans and kool-Aid to go around for everyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:48 PM, March 15, 2007) : 

Obviously I don't look at the Pioneer site very often, didn't know that O'Neal didn't have a bio. That's pretty telling isn't it. Loftgin? Speaks with forked tongue.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:23 AM, March 16, 2007) : 

Well, here’s another story, Accurately told.
Helena finished off CdA last Saturday night, in 4. There would have been a game on Sunday at CdA, had it continued to max games. Anyway, the team left to celebrate the Mountain Banner with the instruction that they had a Tuesday and Wednesday booking in Ft. Van for the first two of that series. They were going to travel so that they got there in time for a Monday practice on the strange ice (notoriously soft, for whatever reason). Then, they were all summoned by the coaches to lop off their immediate plans and get to the rink to catch the bus to Vancouver – the games were rescheduled to Monday and Tuesday, as Ft Van had “Ice time conflicts”. (Local Jr. B team need, youth seasons all over, no ice?) This happened sometime after high noon on Sunday. So, they all shag to the rink, mount the bus, and start the 740 mile 16 hour bus trip. (overheard one of the boys claim that their bus can get up to 35, downhill – an obvious exaggeration) Got to Vancouver in the wee small hours. Got SOME sleep, a team meeting, a team meal, and a little more down time along with their walk in the park warmup. Got no opportunity to get on the ice at Mt. View Arena until game warm ups. Skated like tired puppies. Didn’t count the number of times one of the Bighorns just fell to the ice trying to stop, change direction, etc. What do you think? Bad set of circumstances, or engineered hardship. - Just askin'

Even the little things appear hard for Ft Van officials to do honestly and well. Helena was credited with 13 total shots on goal in the first game – 3 of them in the 3rd, with two for goals – pretty ridiculous with Smith in goal. So, in the second game, I counted shots. From my “other end of the rink location” in the first period, I counted 13 clear SOG, with another three or four that I couldn’t tell if they would go in without goalie action or ding off the pipes, so didn’t count them. Official count – 9. On the other hand, a Van player shot from one side directly in front of the Helena goal, all the way to the other sideboards. Went a couple of feet in front of the Helena goalie, so he didn’t even bother to try to redirect it, cause he saw where it was going. Looked up at the scoreboard in time to see “plink” Vancouver SOG. Sheesh! You think they counted as goals.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:50 AM, March 16, 2007) : 

What's the excuse for game 2??? I'm sure everything will be PERFECT in Helena


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:01 AM, March 16, 2007) : 

I think it is business as usual for Fort Vancouver. I can't wait to see the looks in the eyes of the players, parents and obnoxious team personell when USA Hockey comes down with the death sentence. Cheaters will get theirs.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:28 AM, March 16, 2007) : 

In response to: I can't wait to see the looks in the eyes of the players, parents and obnoxious team personell when USA Hockey comes down with the death sentence. Cheaters will get theirs.

I think it's sad that you include the ENTIRE team and their parents in your 'black-balling' for the supposed actions of a few (if any). There ARE honest kids (and parents) on the Fort Van team that are committed to the sport (and team even through all of this mess) and deserve their chance for those efforts.
It is true that we reap what we sow. With that said, vengeance is not really ours to determine now is it?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:01 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

sometimes people have to " CHEAT TO WIN!"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:02 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

To I Can't Wait. It is the number of pucks that end up in the net that count, not the ones that might have gone in!

To your other comments: If something was done "on purpose", it is also called home court advantage

We will see


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:19 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

the norpac should of taken the paid players out months ago! (makes you wonder who "ALL" has recieved a gift) They will have to live with the guilt of screwing a season of hockey players/parents/fans from all norpac teams.("EVERY GAME" WITH A PAID PLAYER ETC. SHOULD OF BEEN DISQUALIFIED).
With-out the paid players/officals etc.. they might not of won so many games. Its a bad thing that this happens in the USA. Norpac/usa hockey could and should make the guilt party pay for a "NEW PLAY-OFF TOURNAMENT" even if only 10 players form each team can show up.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:29 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

its about letting a team start and keep playing in the play offs that have broken the rules of usa/hockey!!
The norpac league and all the other team owners/coaches should of NEVER let that happen.
and yes i agree.. there is time to make it right. let the big horns go to nationals and have the pacific side start the play-offs over agian. (single sudden death tournament)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:01 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

The bottom line is "its just not right" It wouldn't matter what team was involved in this isn't right and never will be.Its called ETHICS. Its Honesty and Integrity.That is why its so emotional for some.It is about the league, I would wager that there is talk throughout the hockey communities about the "Ft Van thing". Maybe every player wasn't involved...but every player is affected..that includes all the players from the NorPac.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:18 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

I, for one, have mixed feelings about this Ft Van situation. I have watched some of these kids skate since the were 11 or 12, and they're good kids and good hockey players. I don't know if any of the ones I'm talking about were beneficiares of managements largess, but I doubt it because they are local kids. If there were "illegal players", they should have been sent down the road when it was discovered, and the rest allowed to "play on". It's too late for that, now. Somebody is going to be hurt by all of this, and it is just a matter of who. Right now, it appears that it is all of the Ft Van opponents. The adults in charge are the main culprits, but some of the kids were also willing accomplicies. Maybe the best thing now would be for Helena to win 3 straight and go to Nationals. then Ft Van gets put under the microscope for next year. That assumes there will even be a NorPac next year, as rumors are that Ft Van is looking for a new league, Montana teams are looking at a move-up to J3A. Could end up with a whole new mix and not enough teams left for NorPac to be viable. It will be interesting to see it unfold. Just remember the mantra "It's for the kids" -- at least for some of us.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:48 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

Back to the Helena trip you forgot to mention that they got in to town finally at 3 am the day of the game. When they got to the arranged hotel the Pioneers seemed to have forgot to get them enough rooms. They eventually got enough rooms after paying for the extra ones. Not the way it is done. "Oh, sorry we made a mistake." seems more like the team logo.

The long ride, no sleep, and no ice time, definitely showed in the first game. At the start of game two you could see it was a totally different Helena team. But to be honest they are still outmatched.

While I agree with many that the whole playoffs are tainted with the "GIFTED" players being allowed to play, since they were allowed to continue, I think this team should still be able to attend Nationals if they win out. I would like to see though that the Pioneers play with a truely amatuer team, and the "GIFTED" players don't make the trip.

Regardless of what happens this year, or at Nationals it will have no effect on Joe or Tim, as they are not playing in USA Hockey next year. There will be a team, and they will be in charge, just not in USA Hockey.

So to all the parents would you want your children playing for these great charecter builders? Remember the shoplifter, and person that has also been kicked out of his own rink, will be playing tonight. In the last two weeks he skated one game, and does not practice with the team. How is this building the right charecter?

Also how many kids has this team put into the next level in the last two years. I can think of one and that was no benefit of the team. That was from his current team this year. This organization is all about one thing. That is boosting the ego of the adults, that know nothing about hockey, and who cares about the kids. While they do have some good coaches on the bench, it is not T.O., and Joe is no good for molding these young minds of the players.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:59 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

For all your reading pleasure. I think article pretty much sums up the mentallity of this ownership group. The article is taken from today Columbian in Vancouver, Wa.

Team hopes to go to nationals if it gets past Helena

The Fort Vancouver Pioneers can wrap up the Northern Pacific Hockey League championship with a win tonight or Saturday at Helena, Mont.

And if they do, the Pioneers believe they will be playing in that tournament despite an off-ice dispute between the team, members of the NORPAC, and USA Hockey.

But USA Hockey has not yet decided if the Pioneers will be allowed to participate in its national tournament.

David Tyler, a vice president with USA Hockey who oversees the Junior B tournament, said that the agreement between the Pioneers and the NORPAC does not bind USA Hockey to allow the Pioneers into the national tournament.

A USA Hockey hearing commission met Thursday in Portland to address that issue. Tyler said that board is likely to announce its decision by the end of next week.

Pioneers president Joe Loftgren and head coach Tim O'Neal last week voluntarily accepted lifetime bans from involvement with USA Hockey at the conclusion of this season. Loftgren said he suggested the punishment as part of a settlement with the NORPAC to allow the Pioneers and O'Neal to complete this season without facing suspension. Loftgren said it is his understanding that the settlement with NORPAC will allow the team to represent the league at nationals.

Loftgren said that the team broke no rules and received written assurance from the NCAA that it did not put players' college eligibility at risk by providing sponsorships for players or by offering scholarships to cover the cost of playing for the Pioneers. O'Neal has declined to comment.

Mike Butters, the president of the Helena team that Fort Vancouver leads 2-0 in the championship series, is the acting commissioner for the NORPAC. He said that the settlement allowing the Pioneers to play out this season was negotiated after a vote by the league's board of directors failed to produce the two-thirds support needed to impose his recommended suspension.

Documents viewed by The Columbian indicate the dispute started with allegations made by several members of the 2005-2006 Pioneers team that they heard about players being paid. Documents indicate the Pioneers paid $5,000 apiece to John Sitton and Alex Hager, players who joined the team late last season.

"As we've stated and will continue to state: that was for college tuition reimbursement," Loftgren said of the money paid to Sitton and Hager. "We do not feel we violated any rules and regulations."

Loftgren also emphasized that none of the allegations made against the Pioneers involve this season's team.

Butters confirmed that the dispute between the team and members of the league was about paying players.

"It's pretty cut and dried that you don't pay players," Butter said. "It was pretty much to do with 'scholarship', 'sponsorship,' what those things meant, and how the (rules) of USA Hockey, the NORPAC and the NCAA read.

"There's some gray area. Some people felt one way, some people felt the other way, and that's probably why there was a settlement."

The settlement allowed the Pioneers to meet Helena in NORPAC championship.

In the first two games won by Fort Vancouver, the Pioneers' speed narrowly won out over the Bighorns strung forechecking game. In Game 2 on Tuesday, it was sterling play by goalie Michael Smith and strong work in the faceoff circle that made the difference for the Pioneers.

If Helena wins today and Saturday -- both games start at 6:30 PDT -- the deciding fifth game of the series will be played on Tuesday in Vancouver.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:06 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

Joe is a f'ing liar!!! Can't you see that Loftgren is saying things all the time that contradict the truth. Good by Joe, and I agree with the above, you are scum!!!

I hope that the players don't pay for the sins of the corrupt front office. I can see why people started to leave and took their kids away from that crap.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:08 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

Joe is full of crap! Why is this guy still allowed to speak! Can anyone shut him up. He is one of the reasons hockey gets a bad rap. He might as well be Chris Simon smacking a stick in the throat of a player.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:21 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

Hey Marc, can you comment on what will happen if USAH disallows the Pios to continue on to the national tournament - assuming they win the NorPac championship? Will Helena go? Any chance the playoffs will be started over in the Pacific division? Such a sad situation for all involved.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (7:45 PM, March 16, 2007) : 

I don't think the Pacific Division playoffs will get a reboot because there simply isn't enough time. I suspect logistics would prevent it as well, as there are likely players from eliminated teams teams who have headed home for the season.

As for Helena representing the NorPac in the event of a ruling against Fort Vancouver, I'm not sure this will happen either, as there's nothing to keep the NorPac from graciously (IMHO) bowing out of Nationals for this season due to the circumstances at hand.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:16 PM, March 17, 2007) : 

This organization has been lying to the parents and the players from the very beginning. I know of players who made their final decision to play for fortvan based on the promise that the teams organization would do their best to move them onto bigger and better things.
what have those same kids seen, help wise, from the organization? nothing.
so now you have some really talented driven kids who don't even know if they will get to play college hockey next year.
i guess joe and tim didn't have time to contact scouts because they were to busy lying and trying to cover their butts.
"scholarships" "sponsorships" "tuition reembersment"
sounds like bull shit to me. and my heart goes out to those kids who blindly put their faith into this organization and who are now suffering the unfair consquences from tim and joe.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:21 PM, March 17, 2007) : 

Mike Butters, the president of the Helena team put on quite a seen riding around on the zamboni threatening to throw out all the pioneer fans from game 3 ( for him getting hit with a chuck a puck) nice call, also his players not suited making life threats at the pioneers trainer and owner great job and this is the person that is trying to get rid of the pioneers, I think he should not through stones when he lives in a glass house. After going to a lot of game this year the Helena fans were the worst I have ever been around, young Helena women calling pioneer women fans some of the worst things I have heard. Not all the Helena fans fit in that mold but if the shoe fits ………


Anonymous Proud Bighorn Fan said ... (4:57 PM, March 18, 2007) : 

The people that should be the most angry about this whole situation are the Fort Van players (and their parents) who didn't recieved "scholarships" or "reimbursements" or whatever Mr. Loftgren wants to call them. Those kids played their butts off and will always have a tainted win no matter what happens.

There is no kid on the Fort Van team -or any other Norpac team- that was done any favors by the Fort Van Owner or the Coach. If they did nothing wrong, then why accept the lifetime ban from USA Hockey? Every player in Norpac has been cheated by these men. The kids that won have what many would call an illegitimate win, and the players from every other team that played Fort Van feel cheated out of a possible trip to Nationals.

I hope Loftgren and O'Neal feel really great about their "big win" because to everyone else it just feels cheap and dirty!

As for the allegations against Helena fans, give me a break! Do you think it is appropriate for your fans to throw a puck and hit someone in the head? I sure don't! I also don't think it is appropriate or OK for your owner - the famous Mr. Loftgren- to scream at one of our players and call him a f***ing loser. Which I know happened because I was standing right there!

There is plenty of mud slinging that can go around, but in the end I refer to my earlier comments. The only winner in this situation is Joe Loftgren, because he has his precious Cascade Cup. Everyone else including players, parents, fans, coaches, potential players, and more are the losers because they were all cheated out of an honest season and an honest record of wins and losses by this tainted fiasco.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:43 PM, March 18, 2007) : 

exactly right. and i have been a pioneers fan all season. the real players got screwed and joe is sitting happily on top of a huge pile of bullshit cuddling his precious cup. the whole organization is a joke. busride back from montana is a perfect example. everyone but leach drunk off their ass. maybe it was just because it didn't want to jeapordize his playing time (or lack there of) but somewhere along the line the players and the coaches need to start being held responsible for their actions.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:21 PM, March 18, 2007) : 

I don't believe everyone was drunk on the bus...Bernie the driver only had one or two beers...LOL

Those who attack their competition fear their competition...

Jealousy is enraged
In the hearts of those
Who cannot achieve
The greatness of others.

Jealousy is enraged
In the minds of those
Who believe they are
Superior to others.

Jealousy is enraged
In the souls of those
Who do everything to help
But wish to do nothing but hinder.

Jealousy is enraged
In the hearts of those
Who are big men
On very little campuses

Jealousy is enraged
In the minds of those
Who are outranked
By those of lesser experience

Jealousy is enraged
In the souls of those
Whose hearts have been blackened
By years of fruitless labor

Jealousy is enraged
In the hearts of those
Who cannot achieve
The greatness of others.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (11:43 PM, March 18, 2007) : 

Alright, children... You want to play around? Go drag down some other forum.

Comments off until further notice.


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