By Jerry DiStefano -
The Revere High Patriots hockey team found out they have won their appeal with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) right before their lone game last week. After hearing the news, the Patriots were not mentally ready for their game against Somerville, but they still attained a 5-5 tie.
Revere High School Athletic Director Shaun Hart, Head Coach Joe Ciccarello and Revere High Principal Lourenco Garcia appeared before the MIAA board of directors last Monday to appeal a decision made earlier in the season. That decision resulted in the Patriots having to forfeit six wins and two ties that occurred in their first 11 games as a result of having an ineligible player (who played in all 11 of those games). The ineligible player was a fifth-year senior who had not played as a freshman.
The school became aware of the player’s ineligibility on January 17 and immediately reported it – the immediate actions by RHS officials proved to be vital in winning the appeal.
“The MIAA board said that since the entire Revere hockey program was so fast to act upon the news about the ineligible player, it went a long way for us winning the appeal,” Ciccarello said. “We took the ineligible player right out of the lineup once we got wind of the news, and the MIAA took note of all the right Revere did in dealing with this situation. We were very cooperative with all of the MIAA demands, and our honesty really proved to be the difference in coming on the right side of this situation. I hope this is a learning moment for all of the kids who are involved with this team – that being honest is truly the way to go through the good and bad.”
It was not an easy process: Revere’s initial appeal of the forfeits was denied by the MIAA. Revere wrote another letter to the MIAA board of directors, and the board decided to convene a meeting to hear it.
“The MIAA and their board of directors take some heat over issues at times, but the MIAA board was great in dealing with the appeal,” Hart said. “The board wasn’t scheduled to meet again until February 26, which would have been too late given the tournament cutoff date. MIAA members came in for an unscheduled meeting and heard the appeal before the cutoff date. The MIAA was great for doing this in such a timely fashion.”
Over the last five years, Revere has hired a new principal, vice principal, athletic director and hockey coach. This extreme turnover played a role in why an ineligible player slipped through the cracks on Revere, and the MIAA saw that.
“Even though the MIAA understood the difficulties in dealing with such turnover in a school system over a short period of time, we will learn from this and I am hopeful this will never happen to Revere again,” Hart said.
Revere will appear to have a 4-13-1 record and not a record of 10-5-3 despite winning the appeal. The Patriots still have to take those six wins and two losses off their record, but Revere will be invited into the state tournament and be the lowest seed possible.
“We have dealt with adversity all year and have dealt with it very well,” Ciccarello said. “Our kids are very excited to be in this spot, and I have all the confidence they will thrive through more adversity. We are where we wanted to be all along and that is all that matters.”
As for the game, Ciccarello told his team about the news of the appeal in the locker room before the game started, hoping it would light a fire under his team. The opposite happened, and the Patriots came out as flat as can be.
Revere trailed 4-2 with five minutes remaining in the game. The Patriots scored two unanswered goals in a two-minute span to tie the game (4-4). Somerville scored with just over a minute left and retook the lead (5-4). With 38 seconds left, Patriot Cam Whalen found the back of the net to tie the game (5-5). Marco Mazzarelli, Richie Polignone, Steve Noel and Joe Ristino scored one goal each for Revere.
The Patriots have two games left in the regular season before postseason play begins.