Last weekend, Howell High School and Manalapan High School played to a 1-1 tie in boys hockey at Howell Ice World. The game got wild in the third period when a Howell player was given a ten minute penalty for cursing at referee Dave Brown. There was only five minutes left in the game, so this essentially constituted an ejection. The Howell player’s mother then started yelling profanities at Brown and banging on the glass, so Brown ejected her too, and the game finished without further incident.
This is where accounts start to differ. Brown and his officiating partner Sal Bianco say they went to the referee’s room to change and get ready to leave, when two parents allegedly entered the room. According to the referee’s account of events, Robert Donvero (the parent of the ejected player and husband of the ejected mother) and Anthony Gallicchio came in and started beating the two referees up:
“The gentleman that slammed the door open and hit him in the head quickly got himself in the room, shut the door behind him and started saying, ‘Which one of you cursed at my wife?’” Bianco said. “We said, ‘Sir, we don’t know what you’re talking about.’
“I got up and said, ‘This is a (private room), you need to leave.’ He pushed me backwards and then just went at Dave and started punching Dave.”
Bianco said he pulled the parent off Brown and pinned him to the ground until a second parent entered the room and grabbed both referees “by the throat.”
However, Donvero and Gallicchio have insisted that their conversation with the two referees was “civil”, and that Brown used obscene language when he ejected the player’s mother. Brown’s attorneys deny this. It’s worth pointing out here that Brown and Bianco left the game in an ambulance and were taken to a local hospital.
Referees all over the district then threatened to boycott games until the Freehold Regional Board of Education took action against the Howell parents. The Board did, banning the two from campus events, and the boycott was lifted. Police investigated, but no charges were filed and Brown has filed his own civil complaint. His lawyer then blasted officials for how slow they were to handle the rather serious issue of referee safety.
It’s not really related to the story at hand, but Howell Ice Town was also the site of this extremely funny youth hockey blooper.
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