One of the coaches of a minor-league hockey team in Stonewall, Man., said he couldn't believe it when a fight erupted during a game on Sunday, with RCMP having to be called in to break it up.
The fight happened in the last period of a championship game between the Stonewall Blues and a team from the Lake Manitoba First Nation at around 4:30 p.m.
Police said one of the referees was allegedly struck by a 14-year-old player, and some parents were fighting in the stands.
"Holy smokes. I have never seen that type of behaviour at a hockey game. It was just horrible," Peter Mandryk, one of the Blues' coaches, told CBC News on Monday.
"It's so ridiculous … putting their hands on the ref, and it was just so wrong."
Mandryk said tensions were high during the game, and the other team had been taking a lot of penalties.
"We got ahead, they were certainly not respecting their opponents, they certainly weren't respecting the officials, and it was no discipline," he said. "It was really, really hard to watch."
Things got out of hand, Mandryk said, when players from the Lake Manitoba team tried to start a fight and one player shot a puck at a referee.
“That’s when the ref had had enough and said, ‘We are done here,’ got everyone off the ice,” said Mandryk. “Our kids went to the locker room, and they had some kids that had left the ice. Some kids stayed on the ice.”
The game was stopped, and about 100 people had to leave the arena, but no one was hurt, according to RCMP.
Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Barry Swan, who was at the game, described the events a little differently.
Swan denies a puck was shot at the referee. He said officials lost control of the match and were calling too many penalties against the Eagles for most of the game.
Regardless of what sparked the fight, Blues goalie Bianca Zak said the level of aggression on the ice went too far.
“There’s always chirping and disagreements between the teams, but I don’t think it got this violent before,” said Zak.
The director of officials for Hockey Manitoba, Grant Heather, said the incident is shocking, but not surprising.
Heather said at least 20 incidents of violence toward an official have been investigated this season alone.
“I think parents and coaches really need to step up and start disciplining and really teaching discipline to their kids playing hockey,” said Heather. “I mean, the majority of these incidents occur in bantam and midget hockey.”
Blues coach Mandryk said he’s not happy there was an outburst in the first place.
"Police shouldn't have to come down to a hockey game. I do believe they have better things to do with — and certainly more important things to do with — their time," said Mandryk.
The incident is under investigation by both the RCMP and Hockey Manitoba.