Ottawa Citizen

Junior hockey clubs suspended after brawl

Official ‘ overpowere­d’ before being kicked unconsciou­s


CALGARY • Two junior hockey teams and their coaches have been suspended indefinite­ly after a violent brawl at a Calgary arena in which a linesman knocked unconsciou­s from a kick to the head.

The fight mars the image of the sport, said the president of Hockey Canada as Calgary police and the associatio­n that oversees the league investigat­e.

“ Until further notice, all the coaches and all the players are suspended,” said Murray Briceland, general manager of Hockey Calgary.

Briceland said once the “ good guys” are separated from the “ bad guys,” they will be free to play hockey again. “ I don’t think I have ever heard of two teams being suspended,” he said.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Kelly Hrudey, a former NHL goalie, hasn’t heard of it, either, but was pleased with the decision.

“ I like the direction hockey is going in doing things like this,” he said after hearing about the suspension­s yesterday. “ It’s a good, progressiv­e sign.”

The decision was made yesterday morning by Ken Moore, the president of Hockey Calgary. A hearing is expected to be held tomorrow at Hockey Calgary to discuss the incident.

Meanwhile, the president of Hockey Canada said the fight in Calgary was “ not good for the image of the game of hockey.”

“ Control your emotions — it is just a game,” urged Bob Nicholson. “ It’s the game of hockey at the junior B level. Play the game, enjoy the game, but try not to get this kind of incident happening.”

The brawl began with an alleged sucker punch at the end of the game between junior teams the Canucks and the Bruins at a Calgary arena Sunday night. Pete Desmarais, whose son plays for the Canucks, said a Canucks player hit a Bruins player on the ice at the end of the game.

“ He did sucker him, but that kind of thing happens all the time,” Desmarais said. “ The referee grabbed the Canuck player and just slammed him into the ice, and that’s what started the whole thing.”

Desmarais said the Canucks player’s father then waited at the rink exit for the referee.

“ I don’t know what he wanted to do, but he shouldn’t have been down there in the first place,” Desmarais said.

He added that when the governor of the Calgary Junior Hockey League tried to speak to the parent, a fight broke out and players became involved as others tried to break it up.

“ I think the linesman somehow got caught up in between,” Desmarais said.

As the fight spilled into the hallway, linesman Rory McCuaig was kicked.

“ I was overpowere­d. I couldn’t even get my hands up to my face to protect myself. It was pretty wild,” McCuaig said. “ I had four sets of arms pulling me in different directions.”

The governor, Bob Eacrett, said the on- ice incident “ definitely led” to the subsequent fight in the hallway, but defended the actions of the officials.

“ The father definitely thought the official was manhandlin­g his ( son),” Eacrett said, adding the officials were “ doing what they thought was required to diffuse the situation.”

A police spokesman said yesterday it’s too early to tell whether charges will be laid.

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