Toronto Beaches secure final spot for upcoming Ontario Junior Lacrosse League playoffs

The Toronto Beaches Junior A lacrosse team (white sweaters) are shown in action earlier this season. Beach Metro Community News file photo by Christian Hasse.

Despite having the first eight wins of the season taken away from them by the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) and the Ontario Lacrosse Association for using ineligible players, Toronto Beaches have qualified for the league’s playoffs which begin this week.

Eight of the 11 teams in the OJLL Junior A loop make the playoffs, and the Beaches finished in a three-way tie for the final spot with the Six Nations Arrows and the Whitby Warriors.

All three teams ended the 20-game regular season with records of nine wins and 11 losses. Beaches took the eighth and final playoff spot by virtue of having beaten Whitby in both games they played during the regular season.

The wins over Whitby were on June 20 and June 21 in games played after the ones impacted by the ruling on ineligible players.

The OJLL playoffs begin on Friday, July 12. The first-round playoff format sees the first place team play the eighth; the second place team play the seventh; the third place team play the sixth; and the fourth place team play the fifth in best-of-five series.

The OJLL playoff championship trophy is the Iroquois Cup. Its winner goes on to represent Ontario and play in the national championship tournament for the Minto Cup. The 2024 Minto Cup will be played in Coquitlam, B.C. from Aug. 17 to 25.

The Beaches will face off against the regular season’s top team, the Orangeville Northmen who finished with a record of 17 wins and three losses, in the first round of the OJLL playoffs but the exact schedule of games has yet to be released. Please go to the Toronto Beaches Junior A lacrosse team website at https://beachesjralacrosse.ca/ for an update on the playoff schedule.

Toronto Beaches had appealed the decision made in June by the OJLL and OLA regarding the use of the ineligible players and the forfeit of the team’s first eight wins of the season. The appeal was heard by the OLA Appeals Committee on June 28. In a news release this week on the OJLL website it was reported that the original decision was being upheld.

Here is this week’s full statement from the OJLL regarding the decision on the appeal:

“The Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) has finalized the player eligibility review for the Toronto Beaches Junior “A” Lacrosse Club. This decision follows a series of appeals that emphasized procedural adherence and fairness in handling player registrations.

“The Toronto Beaches appealed the initial decision of the review committee, which was heard by the OLA Appeals Committee on Friday, June 28, 2024.

“The OLA Appeals Committee determined that the Toronto Beaches are responsible for understanding the rules and ensuring all players meet eligibility requirements. It also found that the club exceeded the limit of three direct releases as per Regulation R6.35(a), potentially facing additional sanctions.

“While the OJLL agreed with these findings, the league appealed the decision to the OLA Tribunal (Final Level), based on the findings that the process and procedures of Article R.15 were not followed and a hearing would be scheduled to hear a protest by the Orangeville Northmen against Toronto Beaches. The OJLL contested the necessity of a hearing to address a protest, arguing that no formal protest had been filed that warranted consideration by the OLA Appeals Committee. The initial investigation into player eligibility was conducted independently of any protest.

“The final decision by the OLA Tribunal confirmed no formal protest was filed and highlighted the Commissioner’s responsibility to investigate and determine player eligibility to uphold the integrity of the league. Additionally, the OLA Tribunal affirmed that the Commissioner has the authority to act independently of formal protests and that the decision of what was the best course of action rests with the Commissioner.

“The OJLL appreciates the efforts of all parties who participated in the appeals process, contributing to a thorough review of the facts. It is important to clarify that while procedural challenges were identified, these have been addressed in a manner that reflects our dedication to transparency and equitable treatment for all teams involved, ensuring that all teams have equal opportunities to compete under the same rules.

“Following a directive from the OLA Tribunal, the matter was returned to the Commissioner for resolution. Based on this directive and following the review of the direct releases, registration records, movement and eligibility of several players to the Toronto Beaches, the following decision has been confirmed:

“The Toronto Beaches Junior “A” Lacrosse Club exceeded the maximum number of direct releases permitted under OLA Regulation 6.35(a). Additionally, the club permitted the involvement of a player who was not registered or properly rostered to an OLA team prior to participation. The use of these players not only violates the OLA Regulations on the maximum limit of direct releases permitted between divisions of play but also provided the Toronto Beaches an unfair competitive advantage in assembling their roster, which undermines the fairness and integrity of the league.

“Consequently, the score of the first eight (8) Toronto Beaches games of the 2024 season, which were played with ineligible players, shall be zero (0) for the Toronto Beaches, and the score of the other team shall be as attained during the game.

“The first round of the 2024 OJLL Playoffs will begin on Friday July 12, 2024.”


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