HELENA — Saturday, the Helena Bighorns were scheduled to take on the Great Falls Americans until the NA3HL referee shortage threw a wrench in their plans, and the game was cancelled.
“Coach (Scott) Cunningham actually notified me at like 1:42 p.m.," Bighorns co-owner Jed Snyder said.
With less than six hours until game time and no referees, the Bighorns' crew had to think fast. They decided on a black vs. blue team scrimmage.
“At the end of the day, it's Helena’s team. So you know, how can we just can't shut it down and say, Hey, thanks, you know, but no thanks. Come in. You're still part of this. Let's do something special for everybody. Everybody just came together, it was pretty special. And we're very fortunate to have a great staff and community to be able to do that in such short notice,” Snyder said.
Snyder says that this was the first time the team had run into ref shortage issues.
"It's apparent that we need to be fluid and be ready to adapt to whatever we see coming down the road," he said.
The Biggies were ready to adapt Saturday night, not only for the fans but also for the Helena Food Share collection that was scheduled.
“It just so happened that the food drive was was that night. And, you know, part of that too was getting everybody to still come in, bring their cans, get their tickets for the raffle for the jersey, and continue as we planned, because obviously giving back is important for us. So we're very fortunate to have the community rally around it and we ended up with quite a bit of food,” Snyder said.
With the help of the community the Bighorns raised 700 pounds of food for Helena Food Share.
“The poundage was was awesome based on the turnout that we had. I mean, we couldn't be more, more proud to say that thank you to our community for stepping up and showing up and still bringing in food and still being a part of something so special.”
This won’t be the last time the Bighorns and fans can plan to give back this season. They have Toys for Tots and jersey auctions for various non-profits coming up. Saturday’s game against the Bozeman Icedogs is Military Appreciation Night.