Peel police are investigating a hockey brawl that broke out between two teams at Iceland Mississauga arena during a championship game for a major youth hockey tournament March 13.
The Little Native Hockey League was hosting its annual March break tournament over four days in 15 different rinks in Mississauga March 11 to 14, said the league’s website. A total of 227 teams played 519 games, with 3,500 youth aged five to 17 playing in various divisions.
Players are from First Nations communities across the province.
Police said they were called to Iceland on Kennedy Road at Rose Cherry Drive around 8 p.m. for a hockey fight. When they arrived, it had already broken up, said Peel police spokesperson Const. Iryna Yashnyk.
Yashnyk said the incident was described to responding officers as “less serious than it was” and no injuries were reported.
But as “new evidence” emerged the next day, including multiple social media postings with videos showing the extent of the brawl, the investigation was reignited and is still ongoing, Yashnyk said.
A video posted on Facebook by Julie Koostachin, which has garnered more than 10,000 views, shows a team wearing blue jerseys celebrating at one end of the rink, when one blue jersey-wearing player becomes involved in a fight with some players wearing white jerseys.
The celebration ends and the blue team skates over and more players become involved in the tussle.
“OMFG!! Those little f—–s attacking my baby,” she wrote below the video. “He just wanted to celebrate with the rest of his team mates after winning this championship game.”
A video posted on the Hockey Players Club Facebook page shows more players involved in a brawl in the middle of the rink, with some people wearing street clothes walking onto the ice into the middle of the melee. Referees are also seen in the midst of the brawling players.
The league posted a statement on its web page about the incident, calling it “regrettable and most unfortunate,” noting the four pillars of the league are sportsmanship, citizenship, education and respect.
“We can assure you that the LNHL executive is taking this matter extremely seriously and we will be meeting to further discuss disciplinary action,” the statement from the league executive reads.
It notes that, despite Wednesday’s incident, the tournament was a “huge success” with 15 ‘A’ championship games played Thursday, giving First Nation children, youth and communities a very positive experience.
Mississauga will remain the host city for the LNHL tournament through 2021, which is the leagues 50th anniversary year, said the organization’s website. Players are from First Nations communities across the province.
The tournament games were played at Iceland, the Paramount Ice Complex, Meadowvale Four Rinks, Tomken Twin Rinks and Carmen Corbasson Arena.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeted about the brawl Thursday.
“This incident is not representative of Mississauga, the hundreds of players and coaches of the Little Native Hockey League, or minor hockey. It’s important to remember it’s just a game. Children and athletes must feel safe when participating in sports.”