SASKATOON â€” A minor hockey referee is criticizing the Saskatchewan Hockey Association for suspending him after he shut down a game over safety concerns with the behaviour of the visiting team’s fans and coach.
Kyle Chudyk, 29, officiated a game in Hague on Jan. 26 between the town’s bantam team and the Prince Albert Hurricanes in the Sask Valley Minor Hockey League.
He said the Hurricanes’ fans and coach were verbally abusive throughout the game and one fan was eventually removed.
He also said Hurricanes coach Bill Hoko was kicked out for harassment of officials and said the Hague team eventually called in the RCMP.
Hoko declined to comment but hockey association general manager Kelly McClintock said the referees didn’t file a report on the incident, adding other measures should have been taken before cancelling the game.
The association called the move “unwarranted” and said it created undue pressure on the schedule, since the teams would have to complete the game on a different date.
“You don’t just stop a game,” said McClintock. “You could ask both teams to have the (fans) removed from the playing area” and if that didn’t happen, delay of game penalties could be issued until the situation calmed down.
Chudyk said he called the game with 18 minutes left in the third period.
“I’ve been reffing long enough to learn you hear stuff up in the stands, you tune a lot of it out,” he said. “But to have a dozen fans and parents all yelling at you, that’s a little over the top.”
Chudyk said the players initially complained at the game’s cancellation, but later apologized.
However, he said the officiating crew was escorted to their vehicles by two RCMP officers, with parents continuing to hurl insults as they walked through the lobby.
Chudyk said he and the other referee had never experienced a game like this before.
“We’ve had RCMP escorts before,” he said. “But we’ve never had to call a game.”
Chudyk said his co-official filed a report on the incident and the game sheet to the SVMHL and the SHA following the event, but last week they were informed by the SHA they had been suspended from officiating bantam games and from provincial playoff games for the remainder of the season.
Chudyk said he’s been frustrated by the SHA’s failure to act on incident reports in the past, saying the association is going against Hockey Canada’s commitment to zero tolerance for abuse of officials.
Chris Vandenbreekel, CKOM, The Canadian Press