Some parents at Loyola High School in NDG are furious that the school has pulled both its Juvenile hockey teams out of the Quebec Interscholastic Hockey League (QIHL) playoffs, just days before they were set to begin.
Paul Donovan, president of the all-boys private school, said the decision was made after some of the Grade 10 and 11 students were suspended following an incident on a school trip.
“After the suspensions, there aren’t enough kids left to field the teams,” Donovan said in a phone interview with Global News.
He added that the two teams are made up of roughly 20 students each.
Loyola’s Juvenile 1 team ended the season at the top of the league, with nine teams participating.
The Juvenile 2 team ended in third place out of a total of seven teams.
Donovan said the students consumed beer while on a trip to Spain.
The students were in Grade 10 and 11, and while the legal drinking age in Spain is 16, the students had been told drinking was not allowed.
Many of them are 17 years old and parents insist the school didn’t do a good enough job supervising the children — they say there were 45 students on the trip and only two coaches.
Over 12 days, they say there were two supervised dinners and the students were on their own for the rest of the evenings.
At least 65 parents accompanied the teenagers on the trip, and many allowed their own children to have a beer with dinner.
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The reaction was swift, with Donovan admitting the school has fielded countless phone calls from parents furious with the decision.
Some parents told the school a three-day suspension from classes was a harsh enough punishment.
One parent who contacted Global News said the parents feel the situation was badly handled by the school.
They did not want to be identified, saying they fear the school will unjustly take even tougher disciplinary action against their children.
Parents said they are concerned abandoning the playoffs may reflect badly on students applying for hockey scholarships to U.S. schools.
They insist the school embarrassed their children by pulling them out of the playoffs and making the incident public.
The parents argue a coach suspected the boys had been drinking and each individual student sent an email to the school confirming if they had or had not been involved.
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Nevertheless, Donovan said he doesn’t think the punishments are too tough.
He said it’s unfortunate the suspensions come as the playoffs are set to begin, but said hockey won’t supersede school discipline.
He also doesn’t believe the decision will affect school applications in any way.
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“There is too much focus on hockey,” he said.
“I find it amazing. The integrity of the kids is more important than hockey.”
Hockey Quebec told Global News it’s very rare for a school to pull its league-leading teams out of the playoffs right as they are set to start.
Howard S. Billings (HSB) School in Châteauguay is one of the teams in the Juvenile 2 division.
Team manager Scott Colosimo said seeing Loyola pull out of the playoffs is disappointing.
“They are a rival of ours,” Colosimo said.
“They are a good hockey team. It sucks not having them in the playoffs. It’s too bad.”
The QIHL told Global News it has already adjusted the playoff schedule.
A spokesman said in an email that teams have been pulled from school leagues for disciplinary reasons before. He added they respect Loyola’s decision.
Kuper Academy has a team in the Juvenile 1 division. Athletic director George Martin said he supports Loyola’s decision.
“It’s unfortunate for their program, but I support them. I’ve pulled teams out before too. High school sports is discipline first,” said Martin.