Outlaws cancel home finale

With the weather-related cancelation of tonight’s match against 1,000 Islands, the home season for the Williamsport Outlaws in the Federal Hockey League has come to an end.

No Outlaws representative could be reached for comment Sunday night. The team’s website, which announced the cancelation Sunday afternoon and promised “more information will follow shortly,” was not updated as of Sunday evening.

Prior to today, just one Outlaws game has been postponed because of weather all season, on Jan. 11. Another game, on Dec. 20 against 1,000 Islands, was stopped after the first period by deteriorating weather conditions.

A number of issues have beset the Outlaws during their first season here, including low attendance and unpaid bills. The Sun-Gazette counted an estimated 200 people in the stands for Saturday’s game, but the team listed 867 on the official box score. Such discrepancies have been common.

City Council said Thursday that the final $5,000 of the $20,000 assurance bond owed by the team for Bowman Field repairs was “pending.”

Also, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana told City Council on Thursday the unpaid $15,000 utility bill owed by the nonprofit group Williamsport Ice Arena that operates the rink was sent to the wrong place and that he was confident it would be paid.

The cancelation also puts into question the finale festivities at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field, which was supposed to feature the culmination of the season-long $25,000 shot contest. Stacey Schneider, who could not be reached for comment, was the only person to qualify for the shot.

Before the team moves ahead with any long-term plans, at least from a hockey standpoint, it appears likely it will need a better arrangement than this year’s outdoor rink.

“I know everyone has aspirations of a new arena. But for us to be back here, that would have to be in place. We would never do the outdoor facility again. It was just too big of an undertaking,” Outlaws coach and General Manager Chris Firriolo said last week.

Firriolo, who also is listed as team president in the Outlaws’ official program, seemed to remain optimistic, despite falling attendance numbers and a depleted roster.

Despite the cancelation, Williamsport (16-2-3-14) remains in second place behind Dayton in the FHL standings. The Outlaws’ 66 points in 41 games gives them a comfortable lead over third-place Danbury (49 points, 31 games).

The Outlaws still are scheduled to finish the last few weeks of the regular season on the road.

“If the city had an indoor arena, we’d draw incredibly well,” Firriolo said last week. “We’re at the end here, and there are a lot of good memories. We accomplished a lot of goals, some we didn’t accomplish, but to sit here in second place is something to keep your head up about.”