'Chippy' play may have led to high school hockey forfeit
The investigation is still continuing, but based on reports he has already heard and read, the executive director of the NHIAA believes safety was a reason Timberlane Regional of Plaistow decided to leave and forfeit its Division II boys' ice hockey contest against Merrimack on Wednesday at the West Side Arena in Manchester.
"Based on what I know so far, with his team trailing by seven goals, the Timberlane coach had safety concerns for his team and decided to end the game," said Pat Corbin on Thursday.
In a game pitting the top-ranked and unbeaten Tomahawks (13-0 entering the game) against the last-place 1-12 Owls, Merrimack held an 8-1 lead with 2:30 left in the second period when the Owls departed the rink.
Corbin said Thursday he spoke with Timberlane athletic Angelo Fantasia and Merrimack athletic director Eric Sabean. Corbin also said he has already received a written report from Sabean and the game officials. He expects to receive a written report from Fantasia soon.
"It's my understanding that by the time the score reached 8-1, the Timberlane coach felt the game was deteriorating to the point where play from both sides was getting rough. He felt at that point he had to stop it," said Corbin. "He felt at that point there was nothing for his team to gain."
According to reports, the Timberlane first-year coach is Andrew Hebert. Efforts to reach him through Fantasia were unsuccessful. Fantasia did not return multiple phone message left for him.
Corbin confirmed a scrum broke out just before Timberlane departed the game.
"There were no ejections, but the Timberlane coach told his athletic director the game was getting chippy," said Corbin. "So to this point all I can say is based on high school federation rules, the NHIAA will award Merrimack a forfeit win."
Corbin said the schools have the authority to suspend or sanction players and coaches. Corbin said the NHIAA ice hockey committee can further investigate whether any sportsmanship infractions were committed during the game.
"If they see any, that committee can report its findings to the (NHIAA) Sportsmanship Committee."
Reached at his home Thursday, ice hockey chairman Gary Bisson of Berlin said he had not seen any of the reports and declined to comment.
Merrimack's record is now 14-0 while Timberlane fell to 1-13 with three games left to play.