A 17-year-old goalie from Grimsby, Ont., has been charged with assault with a weapon after an opponent was hit on head with a hockey stick during a youth tournament last month, Niagara police say.
Police said they were contacted by a member of the public who reported an assault during the tournament in Grimsby and the Town of Lincoln from Dec. 10 to 12.
“During a December 10th game at the Fleming Memorial Arena, a player (goalie) intentionally struck an opposing player in the head with their stick,” investigators said in a media release.
There was a “back and forth” between two players during the game before the goalie reportedly swung his stick, Const. Phil Gavin told CBC.
“Obviously during hockey there is some aggressive elements to it, with body contact and things like that. Those are allowable elements of the game,” he said.
“But in this particular case, it was believed that threshold was overstepped and it met the grounds for a criminal charge.”
Player suspended indefinitely
The goalie was ejected from the game and the tournament, said police.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) said it could not comment on the incident as it involves a minor and is under police investigation.
However, the association confirmed the player who was charged has been suspended indefinitely.
Gavin said the other player’s helmet did what it was supposed to do — give protection. The player was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and has been released to continue recovering at home.
No further details about the 17-year-old who was charged were released as the Youth Criminal Justice Act protects the accused’s identity.
Gavin said assault charges from hockey games are “not a common occurrence” for Niagara police.
He said it’s important to keep a cool head even in the heat of competition.
“In the end, it is a game and you should be able to walk away without lasting injuries,” said Gavin.
“You’d hate to see a spur-of-the-moment decision impact people’s lives whether it be through injury or in this particular case, the judicial process.”
The 17-year-old has been released pending a future court date.