KUSA - A youth hockey coach was suspended for what he says was an attempt to keep his players safe.
Steve Decker, who coaches a northern Colorado youth hockey team, says a Jan. 21 hockey game was getting dangerous for his players after one suffered a concussion and another went to the ER.
"The game had no meaning, and it wasn't even a game we were scheduled to play," Decker said.
He says it was a tournament and the director told him it would be a scrimmage. So Decker agreed to the game.
"It was a rough game to begin with," Decker said.
By the third period, he felt the officials weren't doing an adequate job of keeping his players safe. So, he says, he walked off the ice with his players in tow. He felt it was the right move.
"It's a common-sense argument. It's that this was done for the safety of the players," Decker said.
But he broke a rule. Ron Groothedde supervises officials for CAHA, the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association.
He says a very specific rule was violated because a coach isn't allowed to just stop a game.
"It takes a lot of time, energy and of course money to put a young athlete into their endeavor. The rule is in place to disallow the opportunity for one individual to make a choice to end any particular game," Groothedde said.
Groothedde says only officials can end a game, even if a coach like Decker thought it was just a scrimmage. He says if officials are on the ice, it is not a scrimmage.
"This individual had his hearing, was explained the rule, admitted he didn't know it, and admitted he would not violate it again, but that is inconsequential," Groothedde said. "The fact is that it happened, and we have to follow the rules of the game."
Groothedde says he and CAHA are extremely concerned about player safety, but the officials must make the call. Instead of approaching the officials about ending the game, Decker simply walked his team off the ice.
Decker is suspended for 90 days. He says he plans to appeal.
"I'm very angry with CAHA for not using common sense. It's very frustrating," Decker said.