Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Coach alleges official made racial slurs

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The coach of a minor hockey team under fire following a weekend game in Stonewall says his squad is being unfairly criticized for a series of ugly incidents on the ice.

Darrel Swan, head coach of the Lake Manitoba First Nation bantam hockey team, alleged Tuesday an official was "inappropriate" in his handling of the players and the official was to blame for events that took place during the provincial playoff game Sunday.

"He was swearing at our players and making racial remarks at our bench all game," Swan said. "It was completely out of control."

The Lake Manitoba team was playing a Stonewall squad. Bantam players are 13 and 14 years old.

Swan said he spoke to one of the head referees during the second intermission and asked him to speak to the official.

"I asked him to ask him to leave the kids alone -- stop grabbing them, stop swearing at them, stop yelling at them.

"The head ref said, 'I'll speak to him but I can't promise you anything.' "

Swan declined to elaborate on the alleged racial remarks. He said the official was aggressive with his players and grabbed their jerseys and pushed them toward the penalty bench.

"He shouldn't be putting his hands on the players," Swan said.

RCMP have launched a criminal investigation. No charges or arrests had been made.

Witnesses said a linesman was shoved to the ice and kicked during the game.

It's also alleged a 14-year-old female member of the Lake Manitoba team (both bantam teams have boys and girls on their rosters) fired a slapshot in the direction of the 18-year-old linesman and the two older referees, narrowly missing them.

On Monday, the linesman declined to discuss details of the incident, citing the RCMP probe.

The linesman said he was not physically hurt.

Sunday's incident occurred with about 11 minutes to play in the third period when Stonewall had a 5-1 lead. The game was called by the officials and the provincial championship was awarded to Stonewall.

RCMP were called to the arena. They escorted the Lake Manitoba players, coaches and parents out of the rink.

Swan said his team received "a lot more penalties" than the Stonewall side, and said his team didn't get a game sheet afterwards.

Swan said the first two games of the best-of-three series were "pretty even" in terms of penalties and power plays before Sunday's parade to the penalty box: "It wasn't a fair game from the start, and my players were getting frustrated with the way the game was called."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 2, 2014 A3

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