Two minor hockey referees have been suspended for cancelling a game due to safety concerns after one team’s fans and coach became verbally abusive.
Referee Kyle Chudyk, 29, called an early end to the January 26 bantam game between the Sask Valley Minor Hockey League’s Hague Royals and the Prince Albert Hurricanes. One fan was ejected, as was Hurricanes head coach Bill Hoko for abuse of officials.
Chudyk said he’d never experienced anything like Saturday’s game, which included a visit from the police.
“We’ve had RCMP escorts before,” he said. “But we’ve never had to call a game.”
According to the Canadian Press, SHA general manager Kelly McClintock believes the officials should have handled things differently.
“You don’t just stop a game,” said McClintock, who called the game’s cancellation ‘unwarranted.’ “You could ask both teams to have the [abusive fans] removed from the playing area.”
McClintock also suggested calling delay of game penalties until things settled down. Exactly how that may have calmed an already-frustrated and irate mob remains to be seen.
Chudyk did what he thought necessary for his safety by ending the game. That decision now appears to have ended his season.
He and the other official who worked Saturday’s game have been suspended by the SHA from officiating bantam games and from provincial playoff games for the remainder of the season.
“We would’ve thought we’d have some backing from the league,” Chudyk told Chris Vandenbreekel. “Disheartened and unappreciated are the two words I would use for how I feel.”
Hockey Canada has a zero tolerance policy for abuse of officials.