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Gatineau Mustangs hockey fan behaviour at Buckingham arena criticized

Fans of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League say chaos at the Buckingham arena has spiralled too far out of control.

Warning: some content in this video may be considered offensive

Gatineau Mustangs fans caught swearing, taunting on camera

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WARNING: some content in this video may be considered offensive.

Fans of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League say chaos at the Buckingham arena has spiralled too far out of control. 

CBC News captured video footage of Gatineau Mustang fans screaming profanities, giving the middle finger and sexually crude gestures to the opposing team and referees during their Junior B playoff game against the Stittsville Rams on Friday. 

"It's always a fiasco when you come here," said Hamish Fraser, the Rams coach and general manager. "There's hatred among basically the Ontario teams and the Quebec teams."

It's gotten to the point where Gatineau police regularly patrol games at the arena.

Hamish Fraser is the head coach and general manager of the Stittsville Rams, the team on the receiving end of abuse from Gatineau Mustangs fans last week. (CBC)

Officers have been called to the Buckingham arena 10 times since January 2015. 

"A lot of them are related to bad behaviour in the stands," said Sgt. J.P. Lemay, a spokesperson for the Gatineau police. 

Police responded to an alleged assault in February at the rink. An enraged parent allegedly knocked over a barricade onto a volunteer at the arena during an argument.

The volunteer did not press charges. 

Alcohol cited as a factor

At last Friday's playoff game three police cruisers parked outside the arena, while officers patrolled the stands. The rink also beefed up security.

Staff stood guard behind the visitor's bench, penalty box and Zamboni exit where fans are known to holler at opposing players. 

Parents visiting the rink say the problem's fuelled by alcohol. Stittsville Rams parent Carmyn Penner said she's witnessed beer fly onto the ice. 

"You feel anxious," said Penner. "For me as a parent watching, it takes the fun out of the game for me."

Ron McRostie is the president of the EOJHL's Metro/Valley conference and says this is the only rink in the league where alcohol is served. (CBC)

The rink added barriers behind the visitor's bench after complaints of fans yelling and dumping drinks on players and coaches. 

One of the league's conference presidents Ron McRostie said meetings have been held with general managers to keep the alcohol at Buckingham arena confined to an upstairs bar area.

But on Friday the stands were full of fans drinking. 

"We have made a concerted effort," said McRostie, "It's something that the league has a hard time, this is the only establishment where alcohol is served."

As for fan's bad behaviour in the stands McRostie said "I have no control over it."

Coach: 'not OK to act like that'

Gatineau Mustangs assistant coach Steven Cross did comment on parents screaming profanities after their star player was injured in what turned out to be a season-ending loss.

"It's not OK to act like that but parents have emotions like anybody," said Cross.

"It was a bad check from behind."

On Monday, the team posted a French-language message to its Facebook page saying they don't condone the gestures in the video, but police have been called to their arena eight times for minor hockey-related incidents, three times because of fans from other EOJHL teams and once for something one of their fans did outside the arena, a total of 12.

The Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League is downsizing next year from 22 teams to 16. Cross said he worries their team won't be part of the new league. 

Hockey Canada is expected to comment on parent's behaviours in the stands later today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa who focuses on enterprise journalism for television, radio and digital platforms. She earned the prestigious Charles Lynch Award and was a finalist for the Michener Award for her exclusive reporting on the past toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She has also uncovered rampant allegations of sexual misconduct in the military. Her beats include transport, defence and federal government accountability. You can reach her confidentially by email: ashley.burke@cbc.ca or https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/

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