Friday, January 16, 2015

Between whistles at the Midget Huskies tournament

Joey Jackson

Some individuals in the crowd that the Wheatland Thrashers and the Strathmore Storm brought with them may need to step back and look at the meaning of the word fanatic after the events of the Midget Huskies tournament held on the weekend of January 9th, 10th and 11th. The Midget Huskies' first games in the tournament  went according to plan, the team just played the game with average hockey, a few penalties, some arguing, but nothing out of the ordinary. When they played the Wheatland Thrashers late Saturday night that all changed.

The first ten minutes of each period started normally but every time it somehow turned ugly. It started with a five minute boarding major to a Thrasher which riled up their team, because in their eyes it was controversial, but in reality it was obvious and the refs agreed. After that there were a few more minors to both teams, but then the Huskies took a huge hit to their roster when Tyson Goodreau was hit by a blatant knee-on-knee which could keep him off the ice for a while. The ambulance was called and Tyson was hauled off the ice with an apparent knee injury, while both teams sat and waited to continue play. This is when both the teams and refs lost total control of the game.  While tensions were high after a major injury, Thrashers players where heard saying unsportsmanlike comments to Huskies players, taunting them about the recent injury, saying things like “My knee is really sore”. Some Huskies players saw this as an invitation to what was to come later in the third period. Levi Anderson stepped up to the plate, delivered a devastating hit to an unsuspecting Thrashers player, leveling him onto the ice, sparking a frenzy of both Huskies and Thrashers, into a mass of yelling and fists. The refs blew the whistle and the crowd awaited the call.   This took longer than expected and I guess the Wheatland crowd couldn't take the pressure, so a few minutes into the delay some people started to get a little crazy, yelling, swearing, some went as far as to start climbing portions of the glass to get at the young Huskies players.

After all this the Thrashers had no interest in continuing the game, they left the ice and forfeited the tournament, which after learning about the consequences is a heavy price to pay for just a simple hockey game. Talking to an officiant of the game afterward, he explained some of the things that went on and are to come after such a game. (Huskies) " #15 Levi Anderson was charged with a major for charging, the Thrashers had safety concerns and forfeited the contest, and under rule 10.14 (Refusing to start play after 2 minutes) the Thrashers forfeit the game and are to be handed a severe suspension to their coaching staff, the game had a whole lot of excitement over something so small”.

Most people would think parents trying to fight players would be the only strange thing to happen that weekend, and most people would be wrong.

The Thrashers aren't the only ones to have strange or radical fans coming to Pincher for the tournament.  The Strathmore Storm can bring an interesting crowd as well. Apparently the gold medal game in this exhibition tournament couldn't be of more importance to some people involved with the Storm. There were no major penalties to throw the crowd into a panic in this game, just a few major pain in the asses of both myself and for those around me. It started with 1 or 2 fans that were very into the game, and by the way they were yelling they were VERY into the game. This always causes a reaction from hometown crowds, they copy, make fun and yell just as loud, but some just took the retaliation too far. Late in the second period, a teenage boy not much older than myself, for some reason decided that it would be either fun or exciting to actively disrupt me while I filmed the game. Swearing and standing in front of the camera, this young man ruined almost half a period of video and the footage of Pincher's lone goal of the game. Not only that, but a man who was watching idly by condoned  and defended this behavior. Some Pincher fans at first were asking for this person (the young man) to sit down, he didn't take kindly to this and was trying to pick fights even while sporting a cast on his arm. Thankfully after the end of the second period this person decided to leave and I could get back to work.

Besides the average heckler or strange yelling fans, in all my years of playing, officiating, scorekeeping, and watching sports I have personally never seen anything like this before. I guess it made for a good story and decent entertainment for bystanders, almost more fun to watch than the game.  It just goes to show that in Midget hockey there is never a dull moment, on the ice or in the stands.

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