WINNIPEG — Surrounded by controversy over a thrown game last night, the Westwood Warriors dropped a 4-1 decision to the Oak Park Raiders in a Winnipeg High School Hockey League A-Division tie-breaker this afternoon.
Westwood principal Mike Wake — who also serves as the league's volunteer president — and former coach Dorian Miller assumed the head coaching duties for the Warriors today, replacing a coaching staff that tried to intentionally lose a game Thursday to avoid playing that same Oak Park team in the semifinal.
Prior to the game, coaches Ryan Butterfield and Jim West were suspended by Wake for the game and the upcoming provincial high school championship tournament later this month.
More than 500 people took in Friday's tie breaker at the MTS IcePlex, with the majority of those rooting for a Raiders win.
Westwood's reputation took a significant hit following Thursday's events, a game that saw the Warriors try to undermine the integrity of the game.
Up 3-2 against College Jeanne Sauve late in the third period and staring at a possible match-up with the regular season champion Raiders for the right to play St. Paul's in the city championship, the Warriors coaching staff pulled their goalie and allowed Jeanne Sauve to score the tying and winning goals.
Parents, players and coaches from other teams were outraged at the disrespectful move, and according to eyewitness accounts, heated words were exchanged between the Westwood and Oak Park coaches.
A Westwood loss would have eliminated the Raiders from the playoffs, and put the Warriors in a re-match with Jeanne Sauve. After it became obvious that the Westwood coaching staff intentionally threw the game, Wake stepped in as the WHSHL president and consulted with all the teams to come up with a solution that would be fair to the players.
In the end, it was determined that Jeanne Sauve would move on to Saturday's semifinal where they will now play Oak Park (5 p.m., MTS IcePlex).
Wake called the coaches' plan to throw Thursday's contest "a bad decision, one that was lost in the heat of the moment."
"There's such a focus on winning, but this is high school sports," he added. "Everyone loves to win, but you have to make sure you do it the right way."