Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blues' celebration delayed

Championship banner takes mysterious detour

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It wasn't a banner day Sunday for anyone -- especially the Stonewall Blues -- in the Interlake Minor Hockey Association's bantam championship game.

There was no banner presented to the Blues after they won the league title Sunday with a 5-1 win over Lake Manitoba First Nation because it was missing until Tuesday night.

Stonewall Minor Hockey Association president Peter Mandryk, also an assistant coach with the Stonewall team, said the banner was sent Tuesday to Interlake Minor Hockey Association president Kris Barrett.

Barrett declined to say who brought the banner to him but confirmed he will give it to Mandryk today.

"It just adds insult to injury. I have a kid on that (Stonewall) team, too, and I just feel bad for our kids," Mandryk said of the 13- and 14-year-old players. "You work hard all season, for some of these kids it's the first time they ever won anything. It was very disappointing. They didn't get to skate around with it. Having to be in their locker-room while the police cleared out the rink is not the way you want to do this.

"I'm just glad we're getting it."

The whereabouts of the banner prior to Sunday's game and afterward is a mystery.

Sources say the Lake Manitoba team had been given the banner in Gimli two weeks ago to bring to Stonewall after they beat Gimli in the semifinal. After the Stonewall championship win, the Stonewall manager asked the Lake Manitoba coaches and players for the banner but were told they didn't have it.

However, a Facebook page that appeared to belong to a Lake Manitoba player had a photo of the 2013-14 banner posted on Sunday evening following the championship game.

Darrel Swan, the Lake Manitoba head coach, said he didn't know anything about the Facebook photo.

"I wasn't aware of that. I never noticed anything like that. The banner is at the league president's place, Kris Barrett," Swan said, adding he didn't handle the banner for superstitious reasons.

He said he heard a coach from another team took it to Barrett.

"I don't know who had it. Somebody must have had it if people saw it on Facebook," Swan said. "I don't think they (his players) would have it. I don't know what happened there. I can't explain it. If it did happen, I'll ask and have a talk with them and see if it's true."

Mandryk said he and others with the Stonewall team also saw the Facebook page.

"Kids are kids and they do dumb stuff. Honestly, I hate the Facebook," Mandryk said.

Sunday's game at Veteran Memorial Sports Complex was called by officials with 11 minutes left after sources said a Lake Manitoba player shot a puck at an official.

Witnesses said Lake Manitoba players punched and kicked a downed linesman as the two referees and players from both sides pulled other players off.

The banner will be presented to the Stonewall players in the next few days. Mandryk said the team will put on their gear and have an on-ice celebration.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2014 A4

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