University of Ottawa suspends men’s hockey program amid sex assault investigation

Video: The University of Ottawa has suspended its entire men’s hockey team over allegations of sexual assault. The incident happened more than a month ago, when the team was in Thunder Bay, and several players may be involved. Vassy Kapelos reports.

TORONTO – The University of Ottawa men’s varsity hockey program—including its coaches— has been suspended amid a sexual assault investigation.

Thunder Bay Police believe the alleged sexual assault happened on the weekend of Feb. 1, when the Ottawa hockey team was in Thunder Bay for two scheduled Ontario University Athletics (OUA) division games against Lakehead University.

A Lakehead spokesperson was made aware of the situation Monday, and couldn’t confirm if the alleged incident involved a Lakehead student or took place on campus. The spokesperson said the university had not yet been contacted by police.

READ MORE: University of Ottawa student leader denounces ‘rape culture’ on Canadian campuses

The University of Ottawa would only say the Sports Services department received third party information on Feb. 24 about an unspecified incident involving allegations of serious misconduct on the part of some members of the Ottawa hockey team.

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Thunder Bay Police became aware on Feb. 27, and are following up with “involved parties” with the help of the Ottawa Police Service, according to a release.

The hockey rink in the University of Ottawa’s Minto Sports Complex on March 3, 2014. Vassy Kapelos / Global News

The university has launched an internal review into the Gee Gees hockey team.

“The University is deeply concerned that senior management was only informed about these allegations on February 24, and then by a third party. This will be among the matters examined in the review,” said the release.

Ottawa bartender Ashley Bowen works at the Draft Pub in the sports complex on campus, and said hockey players come into the bar all the time. Bowen said some players were there Friday, and “never showed any sign anything was off.”

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Bowen was shocked at the suspension and said the young men were “like a family.”

Ottawa’s Draft Pub–where many Ottawa hockey players frequent–seen March 3, 2013. Draft Pub Ottawa

Global News contacted members of the Gees Gees but didn’t immediately hear back.

Watch: University of Ottawa spokesman Patrick Charette on when the incident spurring the suspension of the varsity men’s hockey program occurred, and what will be looked at during the school’s internal review.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Thunder Bay Police Service (807) 684-1200, Ottawa Police Service Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section at 613-236-1222 ext.5944 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous web tip at

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With files from Global News reporter Vassy Kapelos

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