An argument after a kids hockey game in Simcoe on Sunday evening, provincial police say, quickly turned into a “brawl” involving about 30 parents.
Officers were called to the Talbot Gardens arena around 4:58 p.m. after reports of a large fight, according to Const. Ed Sanchuk.
Investigators say several parents started yelling at each other after a game and that led to a brawl involving dozens of adults.
“It appears they became involved in a physical confrontation,” said Sanchuk.
Hockey association says argument wasn’t physical
Martin Jefferson, president of the Simcoe and District Minor Hockey Association, said it’s his understanding the disagreement never came to blows.
The peewee game involved 11 and 12-year-olds who play for the Simcoe Warriors and Paris Wolfpack. The two teams are in the middle of a series of games and have “seen each other a lot” over the past few weeks, explained Jefferson.
“Some of the anxiety and heightened emotions could be left over from other games.”
It’s rep hockey and the parents sometimes are more intense than the kids on the ice.– Martin Jefferson, Simcoe and District Minor Hockey Association
Jefferson was not at the game Sunday, but said based on reports from the arena staff and hockey fans, “verbal exchanges” erupted between a handful parents in the crowd who disagreed with some of the calls that were made.
“It was apparently just a couple of penalties here and there and as we all know there’s a lot of ‘referees’ in the building when parents are involved,” he said.
The president said he’s also been told about one seemingly unsportsmanlike incident in particular.
“I heard some people saying there were some cheers about somebody being injured.”
Regardless of the reason for the yelling, Jefferson said the disagreement stayed verbal as fans filtered into the lobby.
“Three or four parents continued the verbal exchanges. There was no physicality. There was no brawl. There was no fight as has been described.”
OPP tells parents to set a better example
By the time officers arrived Sanchuk said the crowd had broken up and police haven’t received any complaints about injuries or assaults.
As a parent and coach, Sanchuk said news of the fight left him feeling disappointed.
“We always want to teach our kids to treat others with respect, and good sportsmanship on the ice,” he explained, adding he wasn’t sure what the parents were thinking.
“Getting into a big brawl … after a youth hockey game is not setting that example. If you want to have an adult conversation that’s fine … but what it comes down to is showing each other respect and that didn’t happen.”
Teams play again Saturday
Jefferson said the hockey association won’t tolerate fighting, referee abuse or any other sort of incident in the crowd. Fans have been removed from the building before and he plans to continue that practice if necessary.
The two teams will meet again this Saturday and the president intends to be at the arena to make sure the situation doesn’t escalate.
“It’s rep hockey and the parents sometimes are more intense than the kids on the ice,” he said.
“We expect the parents to rise above the game. They’re there to be supportive. They’re not there to be involved in any of the stuff going on out there either through a referee or through player abuse or any of that stuff.”
Anyone with information about the incident at the arena is asked to call Norfolk County OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477.