Edmonton police say actions of Moose Jaw Warriors players not criminal as WHL issues steep sanctions

Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Connor Ungar during WHL hockey action against the Calgary Hitmen in Calgary, Alta., on Feb. 5. Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press

The Edmonton Police Service has confirmed the acts of four Moose Jaw Warriors players were not considered criminal, however that didn’t stop the Western Hockey League from issuing penalties against several players and staff.

Something happened while the team was on the road in Edmonton last month, which prompted the WHL security network reported the matter to police.

“Police have looked into the matter and believe the incident to be non-criminal in nature,” Edmonton police said in a statement to Global News on Friday. “As such, we have no further comment.”

A WHL release on Feb. 11 said four members of the Warriors were suspended indefinitely after potential violations of team rules and the WHL standard of conduct policy.

Story continues below advertisement

Overage goaltender Connor Ungar, 21, defenceman and Edmonton Oilers prospect Max Wanner, 19, and rookies Lynden Lakovic, 16, and Marek Howell, 16, were benched.

The WHL said following a preliminary review of the incident by its own security team, it commissioned an independent third-party to investigate the matter.

On Friday, the league said they would remain on suspension for the remainder of the regular season.

There have been no details released as to what they did and on Friday, the WHL said it would not disclose what happened out of respect for the privacy of all involved.

“The four players have been suspended due to an off-ice incident while on a team road trip in Edmonton, during the month of February,” the WHL said in a statement Friday.

It said although the conduct of the players was not found to be criminal in nature, the conduct was “determined to be a violation of team and league rules including the WHL Standard of Conduct policies, as outlined in the WHL Personal Conduct Policy.”

That policy, the WHL said, holds all people involved with the league to a standard that is “considerably higher than simply complying with criminal law.”

Story continues below advertisement

Everyone associated with the WHL or its member clubs is expected to conduct himself or herself lawfully, ethically, and responsibly, in a manner that promotes the values upon which the WHL was founded and based, the league said Friday.

Those who don’t measure up are considered to be in violation and subject to discipline — regardless of whether or not the conduct results in a criminal conviction.

Click to play video: 'End-of-game handshakes turns into hockey brawl at Terwillegar Rec Centre'
End-of-game handshakes turns into hockey brawl at Terwillegar Rec Centre

The WHL added in order to be reinstated afterwards, the four players will be required to complete further personal conduct and respect training.

General manager Jason Ripplinger and head coach Mark O’Leary have also been suspended for five regular season games, effective immediately as of Friday.

The league said they were subject to discipline on the basis of “failing to provide the proper oversight and supervision required to ensure a safe and positive environment for players, in particular, while travelling.”

Story continues below advertisement

The Moose Jaw Warriors Hockey Club was also fined $25,000.

Global News has reached out to the WHL regarding the players’ suspension and is awaiting a response.

— with files from Andrew Benson, Global News

Sponsored content