The hockey world has its eyes on the Federal Hockey League tonight, and for all the wrong reasons following this afternoon’s disgrace of a “game” between the Elmira Enforcers and Carolina Thunderbirds.
In case you hadn’t heard, here’s the brief version of what we have been told from multiple sources, including some who were in the arena: The Thunderbirds were awarded a controversial goal when their coach Andre Niec, who was suited up for the game, deflected a shot that hit the corner of the net or post, and was awarded a goal.
Long story, short, the fans and Elmira bench went ballistic, and when the officials came off at the end of the first period, Enforcers owner Robbie Nichols, spotted in a bright green jacket, allegedly two-hand shoved one of the officials in the chest as he stepped off the ice, forcing the ref back onto the ice. The official eventually got off the ice, when Nichols then chased him back onto the ice from the tunnels in the arena, where the officials then made a phone call, and then decided to call the game. Oh, and the official who was shoved is reportedly a cop.
Well, the first shoe to drop in all of this occurred tonight, because as we were chatting with someone in the arena about what they saw, we were sent a message from a league source who said that the officiating supervisor has pulled all refs from FHL games for the rest of the season, meaning that at the moment, the FHL does not have refs for this weekend’s games.
“(The Supervisor) made a smart call, to protect his staff and send a message that this isn’t OK,” our source said of the decision. “So there is a big problem come next weekend. It wasn’t always like this, but if management doesn’t demand coaches respect officials, and coaches don’t demand that their players respect officials, you will have the chaos that erupted today.”
UPDATE: Our source who told us the supervisor had pulled the refs from all games has shared the email blast that was sent to all the league’s officials.
This bit of news was then confirmed by a second source within the FHL, who said the solution going forward may be for the teams to find and pay for their own refs at home games.
So if you thought the FHL officiating was not good before, and that was with guys who do the league nearly full-time, just wait until you potentially have local men’s league guys having to call games. This could get really, really bad.
The league’s next games are scheduled for Friday night, with all six teams in action, with Port Huron, Watertown, and Carolina as the home teams.
So the FHL has four days to try and sort out this mess, but the fallout from this afternoon’s debacle has already started.
We’ll keep you updated as this situation develops.