The Federal Prospects Hockey League continues its investigation of last Wednesday’s pregame incident between the Elmira Enforcers and the Watertown Wolves, which led to the Enforcers forfeiting the game in what would have been the league’s season opener.
Following an alleged altercation between several players from both teams before the game at Watertown Municipal Arena, Elmira chose not to come out for pregame warmups, which led to the forfeit by Elmira.
Since then, the FPHL released a press release on Sunday, which “makes clarifications to statements regarding (the) Watertown incident.”
“The office of the (FPHL) would like to make some clarifications on statements made by member organizations regarding the pre game incident that occurred prior to the scheduled game on Wednesday (Feb. 3) between the Watertown Wolves and the Elmira Enforcers at the Watertown Municipal Arena in Watertown,” the release states. “Shortly following the incident, both organizations that were involved made some false and misleading statements to their local press.”
The alleged incident took part well before pregame warmups and at one point, Watertown Police were called to the arena, but no arrests were made.
“At no time were building personnel, other players, or league officials in any danger,” the league release continues. “The league on ice officiating staff had not yet entered the building. This was an altercation that appears to have been between a couple of players from opposing teams. There is currently an investigation into this incident as to what actually occurred as well as the security and covid protocols for that facility. We can confirm at this time that local police were in fact called and both parties involved talked with officers and chose not to pursue any form of legal action.”
The league said that other statements made by both teams, that the game was called off for the safety of the teams, the referees, and everybody involved, were also misleading.
“The FPHL Director of Officiating was immediately contacted and he expeditiously contacted the FPHL Commissioner, the on ice officials, as well as both team owners to stabilize the situation,” the release continued. “Again, at no point were the officials or anyone else in the building in danger due do this incident. League officials discussed the situation and spoke with on ice officials and came to the conclusion that the game could go on as scheduled. Both owners were contacted and assured that everyone was safe and that the on ice staff would take additional precautions to ensure the safety of the players.”
The forfeit of the game also led to the suspension of the season between Elmira and Watertown, the only two teams in the league who attempted to have a season. Including last Wednesday, the two would have played each other 16 times in the month of February.
The online schedule between the Enforcers and Wolves was subsequently removed from the league’s web site.
“We can also confirm that the game was not canceled by the league,” the release said. “The Elmira Enforcers made the decision not to take the ice. However we cannot confirm at this time who it was that actually made that final decision. This too is another part of the leagues investigation.”
Also, in last week’s article about the incident, The Watertown Daily Times quoted a referee for his perspective on what happened.
“There is no Pete Mical on staff in the FPHL and we are not aware who this person is or who the reporter spoke to,” the release said of the referee quoted. “The Watertown Wolves also confirmed that they do not have a Peter Mical on their staff. No FPHL officials gave any statements to the press on this matter.”
A Times sportswriter did speak to a referee, perhaps unaffiliated with the FPHL, who said he was part of the four-man on-ice officiating crew working the game and that he did have some knowledge of the situation last Wednesday at Watertown Municipal Arena.
The league concluded in its release about the incident: “The FPHL League Staff prioritizes the safety of all personnel and strives to operate in a safe and professional manner. Both the Elmira Enforcers and Watertown Wolves are cooperating with FPHL League Staff and we will release our findings upon completion of the investigation.”
The league continues to hold out hope that it can still have a regular season. The Elmira and Watertown teams remain in a holding pattern after the schedule was suspended.
“We don’t have a set date for a return to play, if at all,” Wolves majority owner Andreas Johansson said on Tuesday. “We are giving guys who can go elsewhere and play the opportunity to do so. I have some doubts that we will be able to complete a meaningful season, as we are running out of time.”
Other teams that hope to play in the league this season, such as Port Huron, Danville, Carolina and Columbus, remain on a pause because of the pandemic.