Minor hockey parents had confrontation, dispute OPP's 'brawl' description
There may have been some unsportsmanlike conduct, but nobody dropped their gloves.
While one participant says a “negative energy” hovered over a minor hockey game in Simcoe that ended with an altercation between parents from the two teams, the police description of a post-game “brawl” between the adults is inaccurate, officials say.
Tuesday, Norfolk OPP announced they were looking into an incident at Simcoe’s Talbot Gardens during which they were told as many as 30 parents were engaged in a “brawl” after the final buzzer of a game between 11 and 12 year olds from Simcoe and Paris.
But officials from Simcoe and Paris stressed that to their knowledge there was no physical fighting between the two groups.
“There were some parents reacting to some on-ice incidents between the players and obviously parents get heated in the moment of the game,” said Simcoe Minor Hockey Association president Marty Jefferson.
“There was yelling in the (arena) lobby but there certainly was no physical altercations.”
Said Paris coach Sean Koekoek: “Yes, there were some words thrown back and forth, which I’m not saying are appropriate either, but there was no swearing or anything like that.”
The crowd had dispersed by the time police arrived, but the probe is continuing, OPP said.
“We got told that there was a large fight between 30 people,” said Norfolk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk. “We want to put a reminder out to parents that are at hockey games that they’re role models for their kids and if we are going to have a heated discussion, let’s make sure we’re mature and responsible about that discussion and show our kids we’re doing the right thing. Whether we’re on the ice, off the ice, on the field, off the field, we always want to make sure we represent our team, our community and our family.”
The Sunday afternoon game was a matchup between two peewee squads that are also simultaneously playing against each other in an unrelated playoff series that is tied at two wins apiece. The next game, barring a tie, would decide that series. It’s set for this Saturday.
While officials with both hockey organizations downplayed the incident, a referee who worked the game acknowledged it was a tense matchup.
Simcoe referee-in-chief Ben Jolley said tensions were running high from the outset.
“There was definitely animosity between teams, between coaching staffs, between parents – as soon as you stepped on the ice you could feel a negative energy,” Jolley said.
“The game started and it was quite apparent the kids hate each other. You know it’s not just the kids themselves, it’s coming from other areas.”
Added Jolley: “I would honestly say it was the fault of both organizations for allowing this game to even happen. It’s a (regular season) game that should’ve never been scheduled (during) an OMHA (playoff) series.”
Koekoek said his team has requested an official from the Ontario Minor Hockey Association – the governing body for those communities — attend Game 5 of the series on Saturday, but doesn’t expect the situation to escalate.
“I think everybody realizes it’s kids hockey and at the end of the day we can’t be doing that stuff whether we feel it’s justified or not,” he said.
Jefferson will also attend the game and has asked arena staff to be on alert. Staff is able to remove any parent or fan if necessary.
“We’ll just be prepared both from an arena staff perspective and from an organization perspective,” he said.
Puck drop for Game 5 is set for 12:45 p.m. Saturday in Simcoe.