WINNIPEG – The head of Hockey Manitoba says he’s disappointed a group of Interlake referees is refusing to officiate any games involving Lake Manitoba First Nation teams.
The refs say they fear for their safety and Hockey Manitoba handed out weak punishments after a referee was punched, another got a puck shot at him and players were kicked at a bantam game in Stonewall in March.
“That’s certainly unfortunate,” Hockey Manitoba executive director Peter Woods said Wednesday, promising mediation with the angry on-ice officials.
Five match penalties were handed out during the game between the Stonewall Blues and the Lake Manitoba First Nation Eagles, including one for shooting a puck at a ref and two for hitting a ref. Bantam teams are made up of 13- and 14-year-olds.
Hockey Manitoba handed down the following punishments to the players involved:
- The Lake Manitoba boy who shoved a linesman is banned until Dec. 15.
- The girl who shot a puck at the referees is banned until Jan. 1.
- The girl who punched an official in the head and another in the groin is suspended for one year.
The suspensions don’t go far enough, referees who worked the game said.
Hockey Manitoba said the decision came after a discipline committee heard all sides of the story.
“Although I’m sympathetic to the individuals who think it’s not strong enough, I believe the discipline committee took the appropriate steps making the suspensions,” Woods said.
The referees said they hope Hockey Manitoba will reconsider its decision, and they won’t officiate anymore games involving bantam or midget teams from Lake Manitoba First Nation.