Winnipeg parents toss punches at kids hockey tournament

Hockey officials are looking into a fistfight between parents and coaches from two Winnipeg teams during a kids hockey tournament in Fargo, North Dakota.
Parents who yell profanities at minor hockey referees in Timmins, Ont., have to take a course to learn prevention of bullying and harassment. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hockey officials are looking into a fistfight between parents and coaches from two Winnipeg teams during a kids hockey tournament in Fargo, North Dakota, over the weekend.

The parents of a player from the River East Royals white team got upset and stormed into the Lord Selkirk dressing room following a game between the teams.

The mother was yelling and as the Lord Selkirk coaches tried to escort her from the room, the woman's husband went after them, according to Mike Prochnow of the West Fargo Hockey Association.

That's when punches were allegedly thrown in front of the eight-year-old players, said Monte Miller, the executive director of Hockey Winnipeg, the city's minor hockey governing body.

"It's a very serious matter," he said. "We will be looking into this over the next day or so once we have all the facts in front of us.”

The River East team is no longer welcome at the annual tournament, Prochnow  told North Dakota radio station KFGO.

"That whole team was removed from the rest of the tournament and removed from the arena. We won't be sending them an invite to next year's tournament, no," he told the radio station, adding his association has zero tolerance for violence.

The Lord Selkirk team was not asked to leave because they were simply defending themselves, even though the husband who attacked the coaches ended up getting the worst of it, Prochnow said.

"They basically worked him over pretty good, to the point where he was done, done fighting," Prochnow said.

"[He had a] busted up lip, and it looked like his eye was swelled up pretty good."

Respect program announced

The incident happened just as Hockey Winnipeg was preparing to announce its new Respect in Sport parent program.

That announcement, which took place on Wednesday, will require all parents with children in Winnipeg minor hockey to take a respect in sport online course starting this fall.

Other cities already have similar protocols in place.

Hockey Calgary has required at least one parent to take an online Respect in Sport course for the past three years. Hockey Calgary reports a 10 to 15 per cent drop in the number of complaints about people acting up at the rink since the requirement was put in place.

The Timmins Minor Hockey Association in Ontario requires parents to take a Speak Out course to learn ways to prevent bullying, harassment and abuse.

Parents are required to sign a "recognition and prevention of abuse" policy before the season begins.

It's a Hockey Canada program that many minor hockey associations use.