Garrett Simmons and Nick Kuhl
Teams from the Kainai Minor Hockey Association in southern Alberta's Spud League will temporarily not be playing Lethbridge teams at the peewee and bantam levels.
The decision was made after a Spud League meeting on Feb. 14, according to Shane Tuff, league director from Lethbridge, following a reported off-ice incident from Feb. 10 at Adams Ice Arena, as Kainai and the Lethbridge bantam team squared off in regular-season action.
"Something did happen and it's being investigated by the Lethbridge police," said Tuff, who did not want to elaborate much on the specifics. "It was a very serious incident and there were some injuries involved."
Tuff confirmed the incident was discussed at length at last Thursday's meeting and added until the investigation into the incident is complete, as a risk-management tool, the decision was made to not have Lethbridge teams play in Kainai or have those teams come to Lethbridge in the meantime.
He added the league also needs to see what stance the Kainai association is taking on the issue.
Calls and emails by The Herald seeking comment from Brett Healy, Kainai Spud League rep and assistant coach of the bantam team involved, have not been returned.
Kristen Harding, executive officer of the Lethbridge Regional Police Service, confirmed a report was filed and said the incident is still under investigation by police. The report stated police responded to a disturbance at the Adams Ice Arena after receiving a phone call about a fight involving numerous people.
A number of people were spoken to at the scene and the crowd dispersed, the report continued. The dispatch log for that evening indicated a call was received at 5 p.m., and also indicated the caller called back a short time later to cancel police, saying officers were not needed.
At 5:34 p.m., police received several calls and police were immediately dispatched and arrived on scene at 5:40 p.m., according to the log.
Tuff said the league is looking for photographic and video evidence of the encounter, which he said would also determine if any parents from the Lethbridge association were involved in code-of-conduct violations.
He added there previously had been no problems reported to the league, about Kainai or any team, regarding an incident of this magnitude.
"Prior to this no one has reported anything to us," Tuff said. "There have been no issues. I don't know why this was different. Why did this incident turn out the way it did?"
Garry Gudmundson, Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association (LMHA) president, said counselling has been offered to both the players and parents.
The LMHA's executive board also met on Sunday and are planning to investigate the issue from within.
"We did have a meeting with the team, but that's about all I can tell you right now because there is a police investigation going on," said Gudmundson. "They have contacted the team and are asking lots of questions on both sides of the issue."