B.C. regional junior hockey league hands out 35 games worth of suspensions for on-ice brawl
Nelson Leafs and Beaver Valley Nitehawks engaged in multiple fights on Dec. 31
UPDATE — Jan. 6, 2023: Nelson Leafs head coach Adam DiBella resigned Friday morning, following the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League's decision to suspend him for the rest of the regular season. Read the latest story here.
A major B.C. regional junior hockey league has issued a slew of suspensions following a brawl between players on New Year's Eve.
In its statement Tuesday, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) said it had handed out a total of 35 games in suspensions to players from the Nelson Leafs and eight games to Beaver Valley Nitehawks players due to an on-ice brawl involving the two teams on Dec. 31.
The league said it happened during the opening faceoff of the second period.
Four Leafs players, including Tyler Seminoff, Leighton Partington, Hunter Sperle and Ryland Mennie, received the heftiest penalties among disciplined players.
They have each been suspended for eight games, including three for participating in a staged fight and five for instigating fights, according to the league.
Another Leafs player, Marko Pavlovic, has been suspended for three games.
Four Nitehawks players, including Gavin Tritt, Boris Hristov, Spencer Dixon-Reusz and Kaleb Percival, have each been suspended for two games.
The league says the players are eligible to return later this month, but it decided to suspend Leafs head coach Adam DiBella indefinitely, pending the completion of its investigation into his actions during the game in question.
WATCH | Players fight following puck drop in KIJHL game on New Year's Eve:
Leafs coach under investigation
KIJHL communications director Emanuel Sequeira says in his time with the league he had not seen that many disciplinary actions imposed on teams at one time.
In referencing DiBella's indefinite suspension, Taylor McKee, professor of sports management at Brock University in Ontario, says it looked to him like the Leafs coach had directed players to initiate the fight.
"It certainly felt like they were permitted to do it," he told host Chris Walker on CBC's Daybreak South.
McKee adds that he's surprised that a young coach like DiBella, 29, would allow brawls to happen in the game, as hockey has become less violent over the years.
CBC News asked KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois for comment, but Sequeira said Dubois would issue a statement on the suspensions once the investigation into DiBella is complete.
With files from Daybreak South and Zameer Karim