Interlake hockey bans Lake Manitoba bantam, midget teams

Lake Manitoba's bantam and midget teams are suspended from the Interlake Minor Hockey Association for next season

The Interlake Minor Hockey Association suspends two teams after incident involving puck shot at ref

The Interlake Minor Hockey Association said the decision to ban was made due to safety concerns of referees. (CBC)

Lake Manitoba's bantam and midget teams are suspended from the Interlake Minor Hockey Association (IMHA) next season.

The bantam team was involved in a fight at a tournament hockey game on March 30 in Stonewall, when a player shot a puck at a referee. 

Doug Zeller is the referee-in-chief for IMHA.

"As parents, coaches, everybody has got to step up here and take responsibility for directing kids in sports, for life in general that there are consequences for actions."

Zeller said there have been too many incidents lately of parents, players and coaches lacking discipline at games. 

Many of the bantam players will move up to the midget division next season — as a result, both have been suspended for the 2014-2015 season.

As part of the suspension, Lake Manitoba's peewee and lower divisions will be forced to play games in Ashern, Man. to prevent officials and players from other teams travelling to Lake Manitoba's rink. 

A letter from IMHA was sent out Friday that explained the rationale behind the decision.

Officials said that after discussing the issue with a number of referees in the Interlake,  they were satisfied with the decision made by IMHA to bar the two Lake Manitoba First Nation teams from participating next year.

"They're satisfied with that," said Zeller. "We're happy to see that Interlake Minor as a hockey association is stepping forward to the players and officials in games."

The decision affirmed the IMHA is committed to protecting the safety and well-being of both players and officials.

The bantam and midget teams in Lake Manitoba First Nation were put under similar sanctions a few years ago due to similar behaviour, which caused safety issues for officials reffing in the area.

Interlake Minor Hockey Association bans Lake Manitoba First Nation bantam, midget teams