Police say criminal charges could be laid following a weekend bench-clearing hockey brawl between two teams of eight-year-old players.
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association is also investigating the incident, which occurred between the Duffield Devils and Niagara Falls Thunder novice AAA teams,and has so far led to the suspension of three players from each team and their coaches.
The Devils were playing the Thunder ata Guelph Ont.,arena last Friday during a tournament when, in the third period, the game got out of hand.
Each team has its own version of what happened but police say what is clear is that a fight broke out between several players at the end of the game.
The Niagara Falls Thunder have a tape of the incident butwon't release it.
But police have a copy and allege that one of the Niagara coachesspat on a Duffield coach and that both coaches sent most of their players from the benchon to the ice.
"It doesn't show which team left the bench first but it does show a physical altercation between the two coaches," Sgt. Cate Welsh, a Guelph police spokeswoman,told the Guelph Mercury newspaperon Monday.
Welsh said the footage catches a Duffield coach slipping and falling as he leaves the bench, followed by one of the kids, who also fell. The images then show physical pushing and shoving between the two coaches, she said.
"One of my players was in the middle of it all, and he went after one boy," said Bob Chamberlain, who is with the Niagara Falls Thunder."The other boy retaliated and then they knocked him down. Then ... two or three guys got in, then all of a sudden it shows the goalie coming in and jumping on top of the pile."
Police had to be called in.
Duffield Devilsteam president Frank Carbone said hehasn't seen the tape but that he believes his team is not at fault.
"Our organization did a thorough investigation andI'mconfident that when all the facts come out, that it'll show that the Duffield coaching staff, the parents and the players involved did not instigate or escalateany of the actions that took place," Carbone said.
Hockey association executive director Richard Ropchan said he has yet to review the game report but there could be more suspensions in addition to the ones handed out by Friday's referee.
"The punishment will fit the crime and the OMHA has the ability to issue a lengthy suspension," he said.