The Frog Lake T-Birds have forfeited the remainder of their first-round series against the Wainwright Bisons, the NEAJBHL announced Wednesday.
Frog Lake will not continue operations for the remainder of the season, citing a lack of players after WPHA teams signed five T-Birds in January, and the team suffering more injuries.
“Unfortunately, this year, because our organization has faced challenges beyond because of deadlines and losing players to a non-sanctioned league along with many injuries, the team is forced to give up this playoff series to the Wainwright Bisons.” the T-Birds said on their Facebook page.
“I had a few injuries and after that, there was just no way I could ice a team,” said Wayne Dion, Frog Lake T-Birds GM.
Tobie Opikokew, Peter Willier, Darwin Morin, Carson Bear, and Calem McNabb, began the season with the Frog Lake T-Birds but were signed by the Meadow Lake Mustangs and Cold Lake Wings, which the T-Birds say hampered their ability to continue the season.
That couples with injuries from playing with a short bench for the final quarter of the season was the reason the T-Birds forfeited.
The first place Wainwright Bisons (29-3) will advance to the second round and await the lowest seed to advance.
“It’s not something we’re happy about by any means,” said NEAJBHL President, Mark Woytkiw.
“We’ve tried working with them as much we’re allowed to do within our guidelines and bylaws. In speaking with the organization, between the league and the two clubs in the series, the biggest thing was he [Dion] talked to his guys and they were going to get through the round…after the first game they didn’t want to come back,” he said.
The T-Birds will not face a penalty for forfeiting the series and hope to have a big recruiting summer for next season.
“We’re going to start fresh and we know all the problems that we have, but you learn from your mistakes and we’re going to move forward with this and recruit some more players who are more dedicated and who can sign a contract,” said Dion.
In other NEAJBHL playoff series, the (5) Cold Lake Ice lead the (4) St. Paul Canadiens 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday night at Imperial Oil Place, puck drop at 8pm.
The (3) Killam Wheat Kings defeated the (6) Lloydminster Bandits 4-3 in overtime to move within a game of winning their first-round series, up to 3-1. Game 5 is in Killam on Saturday night.
The (2) Lac la Biche Clippers continue their matchup against the (7) Vermilion Tigers tonight. The Clippers lead the series 2-0.