ARNPRIOR – Before they even stepped on the ice Saturday (Dec. 18) night, the Rivermen had already won the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (EOSHL) regular season game due to the Bytown Royals dressing ineligible players.
The Rivermen then beat them 3-1 on the ice for good measure.
In what would have been the first time the West Carleton Rivermen (8-5-0-2-1) and the Royals (2-11-0-0-1) met in the two years of the EOSHL, there was already bad blood brewing before they even stepped on the ice – which led to the Royals’ default.
“Last night (Dec. 18) due to the Bytown Royals dressing ineligible players they forfeited the game,” the Rivermen released in a statement yesterday (Dec. 19).
The issue dates back to the EOSHL 2021 draft earlier this offseason. The Rivermen drafted two players who declined to play for the Rivermen at the beginning of the season. EOSHL rules state if a drafted player does not play for the EOSHL team that drafted them, they must serve a three-game suspension before being eligible to play for another EOSHL team.
The Royals signed the two players the day before (Dec. 17) their game with the Rivermen, and allowed them to play, despite being told they would forfeit the game. Without the newly signed players, the Royals would have had 13 skaters for the game, not including the two goalies listed.
With that drama percolating before the game, it is no surprise the actual ice hockey game was penalty filled. A total of 69 penalty minutes were handed out during the game, three fighting majors and two ejections. That’s right, three fighting majors (not four, as you would expect).
A brawl ended the second period in which the Rivermen’s Eric Lanciault received an instigator and misconduct in his fight against the Royal’s Yannik Bertrand. Halfway through the third period the Royals’ Amien Nathaway picked up a roughing, fighting and unsportsmanlike penalty for the ejection trifecta. No corresponding fighting penalty was issued to the Rivermen in the incident.
The Rivermen scored a goal in each period with team owner, Galetta’s Adrian Moyes scoring the first one on passes from Sam McLaughlin and Blake Forslund.
Nathaway tied the game in the second. Kingston’s Lanciault got the lead back on the powerplay for the Rivermen with assists going to McLaughin and Moyes. Late in the third the Rivermen would put the game beyond doubt on a goal from Forslund assisted by Zack Rheaume. Both ejected players would score for their teams, and both would be one assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick.
The win puts the Rivermen one point out of second place in the EOSHL West Division behind the red-hot Tweed Oil Kings who have amassed a 9-2-0-2-0) record and 18 points in three fewer games.
The Smith Falls Rideaus sit at the top of the west and the entire EOSHL with 26 points and a 13-1-0-1-0 record.
The top four teams from each division make the playoffs and the Rivermen sit 10 points ahead of the fifth place Deseronto Bulldogs (3-7-0-1-1) the Bulldogs have two games at hand. The Gananoque Islanders (4-6-0-0-2) are in fourth.
In the East Division the North Dundas Rockets (10-2-0-2-0) sit atop the division followed by the South Grenville Rangers (9-2-1-1-0), the 2020 EOSHL league champion Cornwall Prowlers (7-3-0-0-2) and the Glengarry Pipers (6-8-1-2-0).
The Rivermen start 2022 on Jan. 8 at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre for a game against the Pipers, play a second road game Jan. 15 in Gananoque before coming home to the Bert Hall Arena for an important tilt against the league leading Rideaus on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 2:45 p.m.