Describing hockey dispute as brawl ‘over inflated’ the incident, league official says

An official with a hockey league in Simcoe says an interaction that provincial police have dubbed a “brawl” between 30 parents didn’t become physical.

Having spoken with spectators, parents, and staff at the Talbot Gardens Arena, Simcoe and District Minor Hockey Association president Martin Jefferson said it began with several “on-ice incidents” during a pee wee rep hockey game Sunday afternoon. But those weren’t out of the ordinary, he said.

Some parents became offended, and Jefferson said fans for both teams became involved in a verbal exchange in the stands that continued as people filed into the arena’s common lobby post-game.

“There certainly were 30 people in the lobby, which would be common for a two-team game going on,” Jefferson said. But his impression is that the verbal interaction involved three or four people, and didn’t escalate further.

“I think the use of the word ‘brawl’ has over-inflated the incident itself,” he said.

Although Sunday’s game was a regular season match between the Simcoe Warriors and the Paris Wolf Pack, both teams happen to be in the middle of a separate OMHA play down series, and have “seen each other quite a bit lately,” Jefferson said.

“Tensions are high, the series is tied at 2-2, Game 5 is this Saturday. … I’m sure that has to do with the heightened emotions.”

Provincial police were called to Talbot Gardens Arena around 5 p.m. Sunday evening, but say parents had dispersed before they arrived on scene. They say there were no complaints, no arrests, and no reported injuries.

They’ve issued a stern reminder to parents to act as role models for their children.

Jefferson, who has also spoken to the president of the Paris Minor Hockey Association about the incident, said parents have been spoken to about appropriate arena behaviour and that verbal abuse and altercations are not tolerated.

Simcoe is located about 80 km southwest of Hamilton and 100 km east of London.

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