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'Out of control': Team in youth hockey brawl has ugly history
Some coaches and parents watched helplessly from the sidelines as an astonishing brawl broke out on the ice at a hockey tournament for teenagers, while others appeared to egg on their children to “get in there.”
It’s not the first time one of those teams, the Langley-based 2005 New Western Bruins, has been accused of poor sportsmanship, with a history that includes one team vowing never to play them again, and another incident where the RCMP investigated parents for a brawl of their own.
The adults in the room need to take over and restore a game that’s supposed to teach hockey skills and discipline, and supposed to be fun, said Delta Coun. Jeannie Kanakos.
“I’m hoping that those responsible will take this seriously, and a full investigation will be undertaken,” Kanakos told CTV News after watching a video of the brawl.
“It’s a troubling situation, and very concerning to see a hockey game get out of control."
The Delta Police Department told CTV News their officers have seen the video, and are open to receiving a complaint that could trigger an investigation into what happened on June 10 at Planet Ice in Delta during the BC Spring Classic Tournament.
Video taken at the game shows the 13- and 14-year-olds punching each other, hitting each other with sticks, tackling each other from behind and pulling helmets off. The brawl began in the Bruins defensive zone and continued at the players benches. The other team, the 2005 Snipers, is based on Vancouver Island.
It’s the kind of investigation the force has tried before, said police spokesperson Cris Leykauf, bringing to mind how on-ice attacks have resulted in off-ice criminal charges.
In 2004, the attack by former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on former Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore resulted in a fractured neck vertebrae, and charge of assault causing bodily harm.
In this case, no one was hurt, one coach of the 2005 Snipers said, but added that it was difficult to watch from the sidelines.
“You feel helpless,” said Curtis Toneff, who said he was signed on as a coach days before by the team. “You can’t go on the ice. We had to wait for it to boil over. We said, let’s get these kids out of here.”
The Snipers’ manager is Dennis See.
The sole director of the New Western Bruins Hockey Development Ltd. is Bob Stecher. He is listed as the assistant coach for the Bruins during the tournament, and is a brother of Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher.
The 2005 Bruins were publically called out in 2017 by the West Vancouver Spartans for “rough and dangerous play, Bruins coaches ejected (twice) and verbal and physical threats by Bruins parents against Spartans parents and coaches.” The team vowed to never play the Bruins again.
The year before, the Osoyoos RCMP investigated a drunken brawl at another youth tournament, the Osoyoos Desert Classic. Reports from the game indicate that parents had been drinking all day, started hurling insults and entered into a melee that resulted in one woman’s nose being broken.
At that time, the team members were just 10 years old.
It’s not clear what consequences the players will face. The tournament has said the teams aren’t welcome back. But it falls in spring hockey, which is unregulated by a winter sport organization. Coaches said the referees are teenagers, only a few years older than the players, and the teams are sometimes assembled at the last minute.
Stecher didn’t respond to calls, a visit at home, and people at his listed office said he didn’t work there.