An independent appeals committee has overturned the suspension handed down to Port aux Basques Mariners coach and general manager Mark Lawrence.
Lawrence, who has his team in the thick of battle with the Deer Lake Red Wings in the West Coast Senior Hockey League playoff picture, was suspended for the balance of the season and notified of the decision by the league in a letter sent to him last week.
The suspension stemmed from Lawrence’s handling of the situation when it came to the league’s playoff schedule for the Mariners and Deer Lake Red Wings best-of-five semifinal series.
The Mariners were supposed to host Game 4 of the series Sunday in Port aux Basques.
However, Lawrence sent an email to League president Andy Brake stating that wasn’t going to happen and he didn’t provide a venue for the game because the ice wasn’t available at the Bruce II Sports Centre for a Game 4.
Over the next few days, Brake said he received correspondence from Lawrence on the issue that he and the executive felt was disrespectful so they responded by issuing the suspension.
Lawrence insisted that he was only thinking about the players and fans of the team when he took the stance he did with the schedule.
The Mariners filed an appeal immediately following the letter being received by Lawrence.
On a sunny, beautiful day in the gateway town, Lawrence was in even better spirts Thursday when he heard his suspension was overturned.
He was prepared to live with whatever decision came out of the appeal and move forward, but he believes the appeals committee made the right decision and there isn’t much left to say about it.
“I’m just glad it’s over and done with, pretty much,” Lawrence said. “We can just move forward now.”
League president Brake wasn’t sure if his executive was happy about the decision, but they are willing to live with it and support the process put in place to follow when it comes to these situations.
“We welcome Mark Lawrence back with open arms,” Brake said.
Brake hopes his executive achieved its objective. He hopes all hands will work together in the future with respect shown to everybody involved in trying to keep senior hockey viable on the west coast.
The best-of-five semifinal series, with the Red Wings leading the Mariners two games to one, resumes tonight 8 p.m. at the Bruce II Sports Centre in Port aux Basques.
If a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played Saturday 7:30 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake.