The general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association is defending the actions of the Sask Valley Minor Hockey League (SVMHL) in response to referee allegations of fan abuse.
Kelly McClintock appeared on 650 CKOM’s The Green Zone with Jamie Nye, repeating his assertion the referees shouldn’t have cancelled the game.
“The official controls the game,” he said. “We’ve had officials clear the rink and make the fans watch from behind the [lobby] glass.”
Kyle Chudyk and Michael Schwebius decided to cancel the third period during a bantam game between the Hague Royals and Prince Albert Hurricanes after fans of the visiting P.A. team allegedly swore at and threatened the two refs.
The officials received an RCMP escort back to their vehicles.
Rosthern RCMP confirmed they were called to the arena at 9:11 p.m. to “observe and keep the peace.” They said after interviewing individuals at the arena, it was determined the event wasn’t a police matter and no charges were pending.
Fans of the Hurricanes have said the game wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Both teams’ fans said the game was rough. Several players and fans were ejected. Hurricanes coach Bill Hoko and one of his players each received gross misconducts.
The referees submitted reports on the game ejections to the SVMHL and the SHA, along with a complaint against the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association (PAMHA) over the conduct of their fans.
A few days later, the SHA replied by informing the two refs that they would not be allowed to officiate any provincial playoff games, or any games in the SVMHL, due to their decision to call off the game. The association told them the call had put “undue pressure” on the schedule of the league, and was unwarranted.
“They’re not suspended,” McClintock clarified. “They’re free to officiate any other game.”
McClintock noted the referees weren’t the only ones who faced consequences from the match.
Hoko – who also serves as president of PAMHA – was suspended for three gamesl, as was the Hurricanes player who was also tossed from the game. The punishment is an automatic result of the penalties handed out.
A parent of a Hurricanes player who allegedly got into a yelling match with one of the referees was also banned from attending any SVMHL games for the rest of the season.
The PAMHA says Hoko regrets his actions, and doesn’t plan to appeal the decision.
‘Zero tolerance’ difficult to enforce
McClintock said context in the game is important.
”We need to remember these are 22-year-old and 29-year-old refs, it’s not like we’re talking about refs who are 14 and 16,” he said.
“We’re talking about two adults officiating a game, and what they’re willing to put up with.”
Asked about Hockey Canada’s “zero tolerance” for abuse policy, McClintock said the passion of hockey parents, and sport in general, makes it difficult to truly move towards zero abuse.
“That’s why you have security at Roughriders’ games,” he said.
“When it’s your children out there, people have a lot of passion and tend to exert that passion in an incorrect way.”
However, he said minor hockey associations do take action against parents, coaches and referees who “cross the line.”