CPIHL mandates penalties for penalties
BY KEVIN FREEMAN, Sports Writer
This past season's Tier 2 title game in the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League may not, in and of itself, have forced the league to change a couple of rules, but the penalty-filled game "pushed it over the edge.''
That's according to Kevin White, the league's commissioner.
The game, one of two championship/showcase games that was held at Hersheypark Arena on March 1, turned into a penalty-fest -- 61 were doled out between the two teams, Manheim Township and Penn Manor. The Blue Streaks won the game, 4-0.
White said he put in more than 20 hours watching a tape of the game and came away thinking that all of the calls by referees Rob Schelhorn and Brandon Forsburg were legitimate.
"Some were saying that the officials called it too tight, but as far as we saw, there was nothing out of the ordinary called in that game,'' White said. "Nobody was picking on one team or another.''
The inordinate amount of penalties pushed the league to hand down further discipline. Penn Manor coach Garth Bolin has been suspended for the first three regular-season games of the 2013-14 CPIHL season. He will be allowed to coach in preseason scrimmages and practices but not in any CPIHL regular-season games until after the third Penn Manor varsity game.
Manheim Township coach Kevin Dean has been suspended for the first two games next season. He, too, will be able to coach in preseason games and in practices.
In addition, one Penn Manor player was suspended for four regular-season games for incurring five penalties in a game and for fighting. He will not be allowed to play in preseason games.
Another Penn Manor player was given a one-game suspension for incurring five penalties in a game.
Manheim Township was also assessed a monetary fine because of a fighting penalty called on a player who was a senior and, therefore, could not be suspended since his high school career ended.
Bolin knew some kind of suspension was coming. Looking back, he wished there had been more communication between the coaches and on-ice officials.
"I think the refs were making all those calls to get the game under control but at the same time, the refs wouldn't talk to either of the coaches,'' he said. "They only talked to the captains. It was difficult to communicate. They wouldn't talk to our players.
"It's tough not to give the coaches suspensions but I don't think either of us were to blame. The whole game was out of control. I'm not going to blame it on the referees but (the penalties) were a big part of the game. We played all season and never had a game like that. I don't think we ever took more than 13 penalties in a game.''
After much discussion, the CPIHL's executive committee) decided the game was "a freak occurrence,'' according to White. "Nobody planned it to happen.''
Still, the game pushed the league into action, in an attempt to keep that kind of game from happening again.
Currently, a coach draws a one-game suspension when his team piles up 15 penalties in the game. That rule holds but in addition, the suspension goes to two games if the penalty count hits 20 in one game.
"USA Hockey (amateur hockey's governing body) doesn't have this written but the people at USA Hockey said this is what leagues around the country are doing,'' White said.
Also, a player who fights in a game will be suspended for three games instead of just one, as had been the league rule.
That rule used to be three games, but at some point it was reduced to one. Now, it's three again.
A second fight within the season will bring a five-game suspension.
"People came up to me and said the league is a league of goons,'' White said. "I don't see it that way. People might see that once and think it happens in every game. But I track penalties. Fights and stick (violent) infractions have been going down over the last couple of seasons.''
"People came up to me and said the league is a league of goons. I don't see it that way. People might see that once and think it happens in every game. But I track penalties. Fights and stick (violent) infractions have been going down over the last couple of seasons.''