SASKATOON â€” Parents of players and a spokesman for the Prince Albert Bantam Hurricanes are disputing the story of a referee who says he cancelled a minor league hockey game over safety concerns with the behaviour of fans.
Kyle Chudyk, 29, says he’s upset the Saskatchewan Hockey Association suspended him for shutting down the Jan. 26 game between the visiting Hurricanes and the home team in Hague, Sask.
Chudyk says the Hurricanes’ fans and coach were verbally abusive throughout the game and he and his officiating partner felt it was no longer safe after fans threatened them.
But Jason Roode, whose son plays for the Hurricanes, says there were no threatening gestures and fans of his son’s team felt the referees were calling penalties unfairly.
Roode says there were a few family members of Hurricanes’ players who were kicked out of the stands by the referees for questioning their calls.
Roode says the game was called after a woman in the stands got into a yelling match with one of the referees over a hit delivered to a Hurricane player she felt should have been a head-contact penalty.
Glen Cey, manager for the Prince Albert Hurricanes, says he was at the game and didn’t hear any swearing from the stands or from coach Bill Hoko, who was kicked out at the end of the second period.
He says he didn`t hear any insults while the officials were escorted to their cars by RCMP, who had been called to come to the game.
Michael Schwebius, who officiated alongside Chudyk, stands by his co-referee’s account. He says insults continued even with the RCMP escort.
The 22-year-old referee confirmed Chudyk’s description of fans screaming at the crew over the glass, adding he’d never seen a game that bad.
Schwebius was suspended alongside Chudyk for not following procedure. The Saskatchewan Hockey Association said they should have asked all fans to leave and issued delay of game penalties if they didn’t comply.
“It sucks that nobody ever has the refs’ backs, we just get hung out to dry,” he says. “Now that I’m suspended, it’s going to have to be some 16-year-old who goes out there.”
Linesman Austin Reimer, who wasn’t suspended by the league, also confirmed the referees’ accounts.
Hockey Canada president Tom Renney says he trusts the league’s process.
“We’ll allow the branch (SHA) to defend their decisions,” he says. “I always trust the process.”
Chris Vandenbreekel, CKOM, The Canadian Press