Hockey rivalries can create some of the best action. But they can also create some of the worst. That's exactly what happened the last time the Wahconah and Taconic hockey teams faced off.
The Warriors cruised to an 8-3 victory Jan. 2, but that's hardly what left a black eye on the Hennessy League.
There were 22 total penalties called, but just six through the first two periods -- three per side. Taconic was whistled for 12 total, while Wahconah was called for 10. That's a total of 33 minutes in penalties. Minor penalties in high school are only 1:30.
"There's certainly a rivalry there," third-year Wahconah coach Don Disbrow said. "It can certainly get physical. I don't know that they've been that chippy in the past."
Taconic coach Steven Terpak said he immediately called for a meeting with athletic directors from both schools, coaches and officials. Eight people were said to be involved.
"Basically, everybody had a major problem with somebody else and we addressed all three things," said Disbrow, who added there was enough blame to go around. "So all three things should be a lot better.
"I think [the meeting's] out of necessity for the good of the game. Otherwise, it's just not a good product you're putting out there."
The two teams meet tonight for the first time since the Jan. 2 matchup at the Boys and Girls Club. As for whether three weeks is enough time between the two games, Terpak isn't sure.
"My guess is if we have the same referees, we'll probably have the same type of game called," he said. "If we have different referees, my guess is we'll have a different kind of game called."
When pressed whether the blame lay solely with the officials, he said, "Coaches coach, players play, referees call the game."
Bill Loehr, president of the Berkshire chapter of the National Ice Hockey Officials Association, was part of the three-man crew working the previous meeting. He and Mark Ringy were the referees; Jim Bailey was the linesman.
"I really can't comment on something like that," he said about why there were so many penalties. "I don't think it's good for our group. I don't think it's good for hockey."
He said he will not be working tonight's game. It's unclear if any of the other officials will be.
Tonight's matchup will have one advantage right off the top. It's being played at Williams College's Lansing Chapman Rink. The rink has a much wider and longer ice surface, giving players more room.
"It doesn't help when you're playing in the Boys [and Girls] Club just because it's so small," Disbrow said. "So you're constantly running into people."
Terpak, who graduated in 1977 from Lenox, is a former captain for the Millionaires. He said he's never experienced a game with 20-plus penalties. It's the second this season for Wahconah. The other was a 22-penalty game against Turners Falls. Each team was assessed 11, but Disbrow said "that didn't seem like a chippy game."
The consensus coming out of the meeting is hockey needs to be represented in a good light and not let an isolated incident like the Jan. 2 game drag the league down.
"Basically it was just to clear the air about what happened," Wahconah Athletic Director Ken Pease said. "We may have to play Taconic two, three more times, and we're trying to promote the sport of hockey. We want to have people talking good things about Taconic hockey, good things about Wahconah hockey and good things about Berkshire County hockey."
When Tim Kelly took over the St. Joseph's program before the 2009-10 season, he was in the beginning of a coaching overhaul in the league. Disbrow, Joe Milan (Mount Everett) and Peter Williams (Taconic) took over the other three programs the following year.
Disbrow had been coaching at the midget level out of North Adams, but was paying attention to the high school games because his travel team featured kids from three of the four Hennessy League squads.
All four coaches knew something needed to be done to better the league's reputation. They held a meeting and decided "the players have to be more disciplined, we have to be more disciplined with the players," said Disbrow. "But we just wanted to get away from the goon mentality."
Williams left after a season and Terpak took over, but the goal remained the same. Disbrow said he's much prouder of the league now.
"I think all the schools have made great strides with the coaches that they have," he said. "The focus has been much more on the hockey than on putting someone in the fifth row."
The essentials ...
Who:Wahconah at Taconic hockey
What:Transcript's Game of the Week
When: 6:15 p.m., tonight
Online: Game of the Week blog
To reach Josh Colligan, email
On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalJosh