WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Wolves’ season opener against Elmira ended before it began, casting doubt on the rest of the 2021 Federal Hockey League season.
The Wolves were set to kick off the 2021 Federal Hockey League season Wednesday afternoon against the Elmira Enforcers, but things got heated before the puck even dropped.
A pre-game altercation took place outside the Wolves’ locker room between individuals from both teams and after a brief skirmish the Enforcers decided not to take the ice for warmups, packed up their gear and left the arena, heading back to Elmira with the game being canceled.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Wolves owner Andreas Johansson said. “We had a great team, as you know we swept them at the weekend and we were looking very good to try to repeat that again today and we were looking forward to some great hockey and seeing it all fall apart now it’s -- it’s hard to really put it into words.”
The teams played a three-game weekend exhibition series where tempers flared on several occasions both in Watertown and Elmira and the expectation was that would carry over into the opening game.
But Wolves coach Brent Clarke, who was head coach of the Enforcers the last two seasons before returning to Watertown, expected those issues to be resolved on the ice.
“Yeah, no, I mean I spent two seasons there and I mean, you know, rivalries happen and you know you don’t expect that kind of stuff,” Clarke said. “You expect it a more on-ice thing and you know I just heard a little commotion, didn’t know what was going on and it is what it is.”
“You know, we’ve been, we’ve been working so hard for so long and, you know, we were on ice for warmups ready to go,” Wolves captain Fred Hein said. “We were really close and kind of pulled the plug on us, but you know it happens and it’s all right. We stand, we have our players’ backs and whatever they needed to do. It was o.k.” The Wolves and the Enforcers were the only two teams set to play for the foreseeable future and barring a miracle, Wednesday’s events appear to have brought not only the Wolves’ season, but the Federal Hockey League season to an end before it ever officially began. “At this point with them refusing to take the ice today, we just feel like we can’t rely on them to keep on playing and I think the league are very disappointed in what happened,” Johansson said, “so, unfortunately, we’re going send our guys, unless something comes up in the next day or two, we’re going to send our guys home and be back and regroup for this fall.” It’s a disappointing end to what looked to be a promising season for the Wolves.