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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
Five weeks from when the Force made their USA-CHL debut, the Wichita Falls hockey team's season is over after nine games.
While Force coach Jesse Davis said he hasn't officially heard from league officials as of Saturday afternoon, this weekend's canceled games because of a lack of prompt payment was the final domino that fell.
The Wichita Falls Force Booster Club announced on Facebook "the boys venture home Monday" as the Force became the second team in the four-team league to fold this week. Two days before, the Texas Lawmen called off their season because of a lack of players.
Davis said Saturday he had a full roster ready to play this weekend, but the Force was never given the chance to skate at Kay Yeager Coliseum. In fact, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees eventually made the trip up and were sitting around in a Wichita Falls hotel on Saturday.
Spectra general manager Michael Tipton told the TRN that proper payment hadn't been made by 5 p.m. on Friday. "I do have a wire transfer that is pending, but I can't accept a pending payment," Tipton said. "Things can happen to a pending payment."
The general manager also added he spent a considerable amount of time chasing down payments. USACHL CEO and co-founder Bill Davidson didn't respond to a text by deadline Saturday asking about the current developments and a Force representative said they'd been unable to reach him as well.
Davis said he was meeting with players on Saturday to discuss their hockey options. Spectra worked with the Force's players and coach Saturday so that they could retrieve their hockey gear and personal belongings from Kay Yeager Coliseum.
"I'm waiting to hear back from the ownership group before I can say it's official," Davis said Saturday afternoon. "We were supposed to be getting ready to play games. We've had some bumps along the way, but we were excited for this three-game weekend and when that didn't happen, it's disappointing.
"It's been a good ride for me. I've enjoyed myself and I've met some great people. Everyone from the players to the staff, people at the rink, billet families and media, everyone has been awesome."
Davis wasn't the only one disappointed to see hockey's comeback in Wichita Falls end before it got started. Mary Albertson has been heavily involved with hockey in this town and served as a volunteer working with the players and billet families.
"I love what players bring in to our lives and this community. Some of the best friends we have we've made through junior hockey," Albertson said. "I'm just so disappointed. For me, the fact that these kids are collateral damage. These kids are playing the price for the decision this grown man (Davidson) has made. That's what bothers me. He's put these kids' hockey careers in jeopardy and that's what makes me angry. It's a sad commentary that someone would do this and not own up to it."
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