A penalty call at a junior hockey game set off a brawl between hockey players and fans at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink in Saint John Saturday night.
A video shot by 14-year-old Jonathan Tremblay from the bleachers shows a hockey player from the Grand Lake Moose in the stands fighting with fans while his teammates try to help him. Another player from the same team is seen skating to the Southern Stings bench and hitting a player before being pulled off by another player. A referee quickly skates in to stop that fight, but the fight in the stands continued for at least a minute.
It was the final game in a five-game play-off series between the Southern Sting, a team from the Saint John area, and the Grand Lake Moose of the New Brunswick Junior B Hockey League.
"It was a big game," said Tremblay, "whoever won moved on."
Tremblay said halfway through the third period a fight broke out on the ice. "When the Grand Lake Moose [player] went to the penalty box, the fans started crowding the box and like taunting him and stuff."
The teenager said the player hit someone on the head with his stick. "And one of the fans dumped beer on top of him, then he decided he was just going to jump the boards and start fighting."
Team moves in to help
Tremblay said the remainder of the Grand Lake team skated over to the boards to help.
Two Saint John police officers were already at the arena when the fight broke out.
Sgt. Stephen Wilson said they were there as the result of a 'special attention' because it was a playoff game.
"An altercation broke out between fans and hockey players. As a result of that, additional police officers were summoned, responded and very shortly thereafter dispersed the crowd and order was restored."
Wilson said no injuries have been reported to police and no charges have been laid but the incident is being investigated.
Alcohol a factor
With a crowd estimate of between 800 to 1,000 people attending the game, Wilson said alcohol may have been a factor in the altercation that took place near the penalty box area.
"It was between players that were in the penalty box and fans that were in the stands."
Tremblay, who was at the game with his father to cheer on the Southern Sting said it took about 20 minutes to get things sorted out before the game resumed.
The Southern Sting went on to win the game 4-2 and move on in the playoffs.
NBJHL president Sheldon Hay had little to say about the incident at this time.
"We are waiting for the referee's report," he said before adding a committee from the league will assess everything according to the league rules before making their decisions on what will happen to the teams and players involved.
In a Facebook post, the Southern Sting asked people not to get caught up in the actions of one player and a few fans.
"What happened last night was not right but also nothing that the Southern Sting could have controlled. One thing we will tell you is that we will have hired security besides the Police at all remaining games and they will be checking people in at the door."