Ice hockey shamed by Scottish Cup shambles

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

No answers, and no apology.

That is what ice hockey fans are left with this week after the Scottish Cup fiasco that has shamed the sport.

Fife Flyers travelled to Dumfries on Saturday night to face Solway Sharks in the Scottish Cup final second leg – only it never took place.

Flyers were informed upon arrival that they were not contesting the second leg.

Worse still, they were no longer contesting the Scottish Cup at all.

Instead, the trophy up for grabs was the St.Andrews Cup – a trophy put up annually by Dumfries & Galloway Council – not the glamour final they nor their loyal supporters travelled 250 miles in treacherous conditions to take part in.

And as for the first leg in Kirkcaldy on December 27 which Fife won 6-4? It has now been re-classed as a meaningless Christmas challenge match.

Cue angry supporters, confused players and coaches, and yet another night to forget for Scottish ice hockey.

Irate fans

Solway won the match 4-1 win to claim the Cup on offer, but Fife coach Todd Dutiaume admitted that the mix-up had affected his players’ state of mind.

Irate fans, who were promised a Scottish Cup final, have flooded web forums to demand answers, with some even demanding refunds.

This week, SportsPress has made repeated attempts to seek an explanation from Scottish ice hockey’s governing body, the SIH, and the clubs involved.

Scottish Ice Hockey chairman Jim Anderson said the games billed by both clubs as the two-legged Scottish Cup final, were never regarded as such by the governing body.

Mr Anderson told SportsPress: “To my knowledge this game never was the Scottish Cup final, as it would have had to go through us. This was the St Andrews Cup run by Dumfries & Galloway Council, which Solway host every year.”

Both clubs advertised the games as a two-legged Scottish Cup final on official club websites and via match programmes, but neither have taken responsibility for the mix-up.

Fife Flyers general manager Ronnie Herd stated: “We went to Dumfries on Saturday to play in the Scottish Cup final, and we’ve had no explanation why that was changed.”

One club insider, who did not wish to be named, insisted that an agreement had been reached between the fixture secretaries of the two clubs to contest the Scottish Cup final as far back as mid-December – weeks before the plug was pulled at the 11th hour.

Silent stance

Solway Sharks have made no official statement, and our repeated attempts to contact club owner Sandra Edgar, who is also the SIH senior club director, went unanswered. It was senior officials at the Dumfries club who first informed Flyers’ coaching staff that the Scottish Cup final had been scrapped.

SIH fixtures secretary Jim Taylor clarified the situation regarding this season’s Scottish Cup, explaining that it is to be contested between SNL clubs only, and does not involve Fife or Solway, who both compete in the Northern League, which is governed by the English Ice Hockey Association.

Mr Taylor explained: “It would have been unfair to bring in two teams of the quality of Fife and Solway into the Scottish Cup this season as they would have simply cruised through the preliminary rounds and then played the finals at the end of the season.”

With no senior official, either within SIH or the clubs involved, taking responsibility or providing an apology for the cup final farce, it was left to Flyers player-coach Dutiaume, who was only informed of the mix-up minutes before face-off on Saturday, to say sorry to fans.

“The first I knew about this was just before I stepped on the ice for the warm-up,” he said.

“If no-one is taking responsibility for this, I’ll certainly apologise to fans, and thank them for coming out to support us. A lot of people travelled down and spent good money to see the Scottish Cup final.

“We strive to win every game – whether it’s for a proper trophy or a made up one – and we don’t roll over for anyone. But the players were deflated when I told them what happened.

“The referees even thought it was the Scottish Cup final. It was just so disorganised, and on the back of that we produced our worst performance of the season.”

This Saturday, Flyers and Sharks will square up again in the Northern League at Fife Ice Arena.

Or so we are led to believe ...