It looks like suspensions are finally coming from an ugly minor hockey incident in a Winnipeg rink nearly two months ago.
Speaking at a press conference denouncing violence in hockey, officials with the Southeast Tribal Council indicated today that a Sagkeeng First Nation coach and player would be suspended for their actions in a game against a Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation team at Southdale Community Centre Feb. 16.
The incident, which saw an on-ice scuffle between a coach and a referee and a player suffering a broken wrist, took place at the Southeast Winter Tribal Days hockey tournament. In the waning minutes of the game, 12-year-old Kainen Bell slashed a Brokenhead player, resulting in a skirmish. One of the officials rushed in to break up the fight and grabbed at Bell. The official’s momentum force forced both individuals down to the ice, resulting in the official falling on top of Bell.
The tournament was put on by the Southeast Tribal Council. The event is not sanctioned by Hockey Manitoba, the governing body of hockey in the province, meaning any disciplinary rulings fall to organizers.
Officials within the tribal council did not say how severe the suspensions would be. Instead, they offered words of support for an end to violent incidents in minor hockey arenas across Manitoba.
"We believe in zero tolerance of violence and (we want) to put sportsmanship and goodwill back into the game," Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation Chief Jim Bear told reporters Tuesday. "We want tolerance to be practiced by both players and spectators. The only colour the officials should be aware of is the colours of the uniform and that fairness should be the bottom line."
Tournament organizer Joe Malcolm said this was one of the worst incidents in the 20-year history of the tournament.
It’s not known if the Southeast Winter Tribal Days tournament will continue next year; talks are scheduled to take place with Hockey Manitoba to pursue an agreement moving forward, the tribal council said.