Great Moments in FHL History: Cornwall Nationals Marketing Manager says town has bad fans

Sunday was a historic anniversary for the Federal Hockey League, one that nearly flew under the radar and was almost forgotten about, even by those of us here at Bus League Hockey.

It’s not a historic performance, or team winning some game by a record margin, but one of the most bizarre, absurd, and just flat-out rude things we’ve ever seen a hockey team do.

That’s right, it was one year anniversary of Cornwall Nationals Marketing Manager Shannon Ferguson sending a letter to the editor and blaming the fans for not coming out to the team’s games.

Let’s go to some of the highlights:

But things have shifted and since returning home just two years ago, it is clear that Cornwall is no longer a hockey town. The Royals are long gone but remain an ever-present ghost, convincing people that this city is still capable of housing higher caliber hockey. It is not.

Well. The town does have higher caliber hockey, or at least a more organized brand of hockey, it has the Cornwall Colts of the CCHL, a pretty great junior league that, while pay-to-play, regularly pumps out Division 1 college hockey prospects, and has history in the town dating back nearly 20 seasons, and is a team that outdrew the Nationals, probably because they didn’t bash the fans. Just this season the CCHL has 20 players who have signed NCAA D1 letters of intent, including FIVE in Cornwall alone, plus the Colts have another who has signed to play at Penn State in two years. That’s pretty good hockey.

Cornwall currently has an FHL team, the Cornwall Nationals, to watch and support and I’m often left scratching my head wondering why our average attendance sits at below 1000, with some games bringing in only 500 fans. In case you didn’t know, the Federal Hockey League is a professional minor A team that feeds into the ECHL, which feeds the AHL.

Guess how many players the Nationals sent up to the ECHL over their existence. Go ahead, I’ll wait.


One player in over a year-and-a-half of play. And he was sent up three times, which means he wasn’t there to stay. Don’t pretend like the people who weren’t coming to those games were missing out on seeing future NHL players or guys who have a legit hockey future. Again, this isn’t to bash the FHL, it’s a fun league, but for this lady to act like they’re making even AHL players is laughable.

The Cornwall Nationals are not “the new River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are not “staged fighting like the River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are not “a Semi-Pro team like the River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are in no way, shape or form associated with the previous team that resided in the Complex before us and as a developmental league, any single person that has seen a Nationals game can tell you it’s the best hockey this city has seen in ages.

Umm the River Kings played in LNAH, which nearly everyone agrees is better hockey on the ice than the FHL. Also, the FHL became sort of infamous for a staged fight event that saw two guys get banned for life. But OK, you do you about this “best hockey the city has seen in ages” line.

But you wouldn’t know that because you don’t support hockey in this city. No one, besides a small percentage of people, does. So, I ask, what is your true excuse? It can’t be our on-ice product, as we sit first in the league. It sure as heck can’t be our off-ice product as in just one year we have been involved with more than 30 different organizations, raised thousands of dollars for charity, been involved in both elementary and high school initiatives and helped anyone who has asked for it. We have thrown ourselves at this city, passionately and furiously, and unfortunately, citizens of this town have not done the same.

HOOO BOY. Shannon turns up the heat with the, “But you wouldn’t know that…” line, which is a sure-fire way to get fans to show up, insult them and question why they aren’t coming out to your product that wasn’t even the best hockey in the rink. It almost sounds like a mom insulting a dead-beat dad. “Well Katie is getting really good at the piano…but you wouldn’t know that because you’re never at her recitals.”

And then she blames people for not showing up despite the team giving back. Which is just amazingly petty, because, shocker, life isn’t fair. And you can do all the right things, or say all the right things, or show up to whatever events you want…and sometimes it doesn’t matter. Good on you for going to those events, but just because you’re there does not mean that those people at those events are now obligated to come to your games or owe you anything.

It is no longer enough to tell me that “our marketing has been great”. It is no longer enough to say that “those Nationals are everywhere, they really give back to this community so much”. It is no longer enough to see what we are doing and sit back and hope that other people will support the team. It is now up to each individual in this city to make a decision as to the importance of hockey in our town.

So, I ask again. What is your excuse? If you don’t have a valid one then I suggest you make your way to the Cornwall Civic Complex and start supporting a team that can’t continue to sit back and pray that our town’s mentality will change. If you want Cornwall to be respectfully thought of as hockey town then a shift must happen and you, as one person reading this editorial, can be part of that movement. In this case one person can make a difference, will that person be you?

Amazing. Again, Cornwall has hockey and does support it, more than double they did the Nationals. You said it yourself, it’s a town of just under 50,000 people, and there just aren’t enough people there to support two different teams.

Amazingly, the team lasted another two months before folding in the middle of the season, and forcing the FHL to make a travel-only team so the Watertown Wolves could play out the remainder of their home schedule.

The drew about 350 fans to the last home game against the North Shore Knights, and were averaging 406 fans per game at the time the folded. So clearly, insulting the fans didn’t help them with their attendance problem.

We need more people in the FHL to insult the fans and basically call them jabronis. My money is on Scott Brand.



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