By JAMIE BAKER
COLUMBUS — Nearly a month after Sylvania Northview and Cleveland St. Ignatius were declared co-state hockey champions, Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Dan Ross has no regrets.
The finish of the OHSAA state hockey championship game was just one of several topics Ross touched on at Thursday’s annual meeting of the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association.
Sylvania Northview and Cleveland St. Ignatius played to a 1-1 deadlock through seven overtimes in the OHSAA state hockey final March 8 at Columbus Nationwide Arena before Ross made the decision to end the game and declare the two teams co-champs.
“Kids were going down and players from both teams were really struggling. Some of the kids even had to have help to get their legs over the boards to get off the ice,” Ross said. “The coaches and athletic directors from both schools got together and talked it over. We were not going to make a decision that would put kids in jeopardy.
“We made the decision and both coaches shook hands and hugged each other and it was over.”
Concern was not only expressed because the two teams had played a regulation hockey game plus seven overtimes, but because they both had hard-fought games in the semifinals the night before. In all, the teams both played 146 minutes of hockey during a 24-hour period.
While the teams were OK with the co-championship declaration, Ross made the announcement to an unhappy Nationwide Arena crowd still hoping to see one state champion crowned. Ross and the OHSAA took a beating on social media immediately after the decision.
“I had to go out and tell 3,000 people and that wasn’t pretty. I teased my wife that she might have to pull my birth certificate out to make sure my name didn’t start with “F”,” Ross said with a laugh. “The first 24-36 hours on social media were absolutely brutal.
“The health and safety of the kids is paramount. Do I believe we made the right decision? Absolutely.”
The OHSAA’s hockey advisory committee has already met to review options to make sure of repeat of this year’s final won’t occur in the future. Ross said there was no desire of the hockey committee to go to a shootout to declare a winner. One option would include pulling one or two players for each team beginning after the second overtime period.
The state’s hockey coaches will be surveyed and it’s expected some kind of new overtime procedure will be submitted in May to the OHSAA Board of Control.
The other major issue Ross addressed was the OHSAA’s fourth try at passing a competitive balance plan.
The new proposal would be applied in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. The plan, if passed, likely would go into effect during the 2016-17 school year, although Ross said there probably would be a pilot test of the new system in 2015-16.
The new rules would work slightly differently for three types of schools: public school districts with one high school, private schools and school districts with multiple high schools. The plan would look at where a school’s athletes reside and will adjust enrollment figures accordingly.
Here is an in-depth look at the plan we featured last month: http://thecourier.com/local-sports/2014/03/05/competitive-balance-on-ohsaa-spring-referendum-ballot/
One change to the original plan proposed by the OHSAA is that schools would use their rosters from the previous year instead of the current year in the formula to help ease some of the pressure on the state’s district boards for determining postseason tournament sites.
Competitive balance referendums, which aim to correct a perceived imbalance, particularly between public and private schools in Ohio and specifically in the football playoffs and postseason tournament play, have been voted down by OHSAA member school principals each of the past three years.
The proposal next will go before principals for final approval during the organization’s referendum period May 1-15.
Area school administrators will get a chance to have their questions answered on the competitive balance proposal and other referendum items at an OHSAA meeting at 9:30 a.m. April 29 at The Centre in Bluffton.
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