Writer calls weekend incident a disgrace to the game of hockey

To the Expositor:

With shock and disbelief, I was stunned at what I witnessed while playing in the championship game of the 35+ men’s division at the Little Current Lions Club Winterfest Sportsmen Hockey Tournament. AOK was playing Wiky in the finals, of what was a good hockey game up to this point, when one of the Wiky defenseman decided to use his hockey stick as a weapon and two-handed an AOK player over the head three times with his stick. To me, and I’m sure others would agree, what was witnessed by many onlookers was a disgrace to the game of hockey. What’s worse is he took another player out of the tournament on Saturday night, two handing a M’Chigeeng player across the wrist with his stick also—a disgrace to what sportsmen hockey tournaments are supposed to be about, a disgrace to the community they come from and are supposed to be representing, and a disgrace to the young hockey players who may have been watching this game. (Editor’s note: This incident came as an apparent retaliation for a high sticking action by the AOK player against the Wikwemikong player. Both hockey players were ejected from the game during those last moments in the third period after a fight broke out between the pair.)

For me, I am just glad that this was the game that I didn’t bring my 10-year-old son to watch. All this craziness coming from 35+-year-old men playing this irresponsibly and aggressively, just for $35 and a t-shirt. If you need money that bad, I’ll give you $35 myself next time so the rest of us can have a good time.

I was additionally shocked at the support these actions were given by his teammates and fans alike, as they seemed to believe this was normal hockey, coming to his defence and cheering in the stands. In the ensuing excitement, another one of his teammates approached me on the ice with his gloves off (like there wasn’t enough stupidity going on), saying that the AOK player deserved what he got. Then to hear after the game from the police that the Wiky player threatened to lay counter charges because he got a cut lip in the altercation and that the entire team was going support these charges with written affidavits—this coming from a team that had the chief of the community on their team, a police officer and other professionals in the room. (Editor’s note: The Expositor contacted the Ontario Provincial Police regarding the altercation. While an investigating office has been assigned to the case, no charges have been laid as of press time Monday.) What kind of message are you sending? If this were my teammate who had done this, family or not, it sure wouldn’t be someone I would stand beside and support. I’m sorry, guys, but there is no justification for using your stick as a weapon in this manner, cut lip or not! There are less violent ways of expressing frustration! Grow up and realize that most civilized people at this age just play the game of hockey for fun, that kids are watching these games, and that we all have to go back to work on Monday morning. It’s the reputation of teams and players like this that are ruining the success of tournaments on the Island and that’s too bad for the Lions Club and others who work hard to run such good tournaments every year that they have to put up with this.

Craig Abotossaway
Sportsman hockey player, father and coach of the Manitoulin Panther atom hockey team
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