The Niagara Falls Minor Hockey Association launched an investigation on Tuesday into a bench-clearing brawl between two teams of eight-year-old players last week.

The NFMHA released a statement, saying it is "deeply saddened by the events of Nov. 23, and we wish to extend our apologies to the staff and volunteers of the Guelph Powerplay Tournament."

Police in Guelph, Ont., said criminal charges could be laid and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association is also investigating the incident, which occurred between the Duffield Devils and Niagara Falls Thunder novice AAA teams.

The Devils were playing the Thunder at a 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 it is clear that a fight broke out among several players at the end of the game.

The Niagara Falls Thunder have a videotape of the incident, which they have provided to police and say will begiven to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association for review.

"Upon reviewing the tape of this unfortunate incident it is clear that the Duffield Devil players greatly outnumbered the Niagara Falls players on the ice when the altercation occurred," the NFMHA said.

"While it appeared that the incident between the children didn't last more than 30 seconds, it is obvious by this tape that the Niagara Falls players were clearly defending themselves."

The NFMHA also said the "tape also demonstrated that members of each coaching staff were equally at fault for escalating the violence of the situation."

Duffield Devils team president Frank Carbone said earlier he hadn't seen the tape but that he believed his team was not at fault, that the Duffield coaches,parents andplayers involved did not instigate or escalate the events.

Thus far, the coaches of the Niagara Falls Novice AAA team havebeen suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation.

"Upon conclusion of their findings, the Niagara Falls Minor Hockey Association will determine whether further suspensions and/or immediate dismissal will occur," the NFMHA stated.

With files from the Canadian Press