Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Playing to Lose

In a recent youth hockey game between the Santa Clara Blackhawks 16AA team and the San Diego Gulls 16AA team, there are allegations that the Blackhawks basically threw the game in order to force another team to play an extra game in the tournament. 

From the California Amateur Hockey Association website:

The entire coaching staff of the Santa Clara Blackhawk 16AA team has been suspended indefinitely by Steve Laing, President of the California Amateur Hockey Association.  Mr. Laing, in suspending the coaches stated, “The entire coaching staff is being suspended from all USA Hockey activities pending a disciplinary hearing resulting from a game played on Sunday February 27, 2011. During a game between the Santa Clara Blackhawk 16AA team and the San Diego Gulls 16AA team, while competing in the CAHA play downs to establish a berth in the CAHA State championship playoffs, there is credible evidence that they participated in a plan, scheme or design to intentionally lose the game.  Such behavior is contrary to USA Hockey’s Coach’s Code of Conduct.”

The video below from NBC Los Angeles notes that in the game, the Blackhawks didn’t take a single shot on net—ultimately losing 5-0—and it was the goal differential that forced another team in the tournament into an extra game. For more details, watch the video. (And our thanks to a KK reader for pointing us to this story).

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

*Unfortunately the video may not be viewable outside the U.S.A.  Our apologies. If another video becomes available, we’ll post it here.


Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, Youth Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink



Video’s pretty damning. Shame the kids have to suffer for what their coaches thought would be a good idea.

Posted by dez on 03/08/11 at 05:07 PM ET


Win at all cost mentality has now lead teams to intentionally lose. We live in a Bizarro world.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 03/08/11 at 05:39 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Pure insanity. I’m speechless.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 03/08/11 at 07:12 PM ET

Primis's avatar

There’s a simple way to stop this sort of thing.

It’s called “single elimination” using a seeding system.

This whole “pool play”, “play downs” and the like is all a stupid, European-ish notion, and leaves the door open for this sort of idiocy.  If you just played a single, or even double-elimination tourney, you wouldn’t have this nonsense.  The door is open for this only with the nonsensicle sort of setups that the Olympics, WC’s, and other IIHF sort of tourneys use.

There’s a reason we don’t use these in North America with our sports that matter to us: because it’s a crap way to decide who is best.  If USA Hockey doesn’t like it then they should have to common sense to just ban these sort of arrangements and use something simpler, where you’re rewarded ONLY for what you and you alone do.

Duke can’t get to the Final Four by losing to Clemson on purpose so UNC has to play another game.  The New England Patriots can’t get to the AFC Championship by throwing a game against the Ravens so that the Jets have to be a Wild Card instead.


Posted by Primis on 03/08/11 at 11:31 PM ET


To make the story even more interesting, former NHLer and current San Jose Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker was one of the coaches for Santa Clara.  Sharks broadcaster Randy Hahn’s son plays on this team as well..

Posted by Wally V. from San Jose on 03/09/11 at 01:22 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


Recommended Sportsbook