Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Commissioner Larry Martel said the league has started an investigation following a report of racial taunting by a player during Saturday’s game in Nelson between the Leafs and the Kamloops Storm.
Martel said the incident happened during the game when a Leafs player came to his coach and told him about comments made toward him, and the coach then informed the officials.
“None of the on-ice officials had heard anything but all crews are aware that this type of incidents can and has happened,” Martel told The Nelson Daily.
Martel said the league investigates about one to two of these incidents a season.
He said Hockey Canada treats these types of incidents very seriously and wants to send a strong message to players who delve into this trash talking with a lengthy suspension.
“It is a Gross Misconduct and I believe it starts at a 45-day suspension,” Martel said.
“This is much more serious than trash talking,” Martel added.
Martel said the on-ice incident continued following the game in the parking lot outside the NDCC Arena where is was reported some Nelson players approached Kamloops players near their bus to resume the discussions.
“Our BC Hockey referee supervisor was at the game and was in his truck doing paperwork when the incident happened, and he broke it up,” Martel said.
Martel said the KIJHL is continuing to interview the parties involved.
“I'm most concern about the altercation in the parking lot since that was witnessed by a HC (Hockey Canada) official,” Martel said. “There isnt much I can do about the ice incident if no one heard it.”
Martel said the league suspended a player earlier this season for 45 days under Hockey Canada Rule 9.2 (f) although the player in question did not use racial comments. Instead the player was ruled to have used inappropriate gestures to the fans at the game.
Nelson won the game over Kamloops by a 4-2 score.
The Leafs return to action Tuesday when the Green and White host Grand Forks Border Bruins at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
Hockey Canada Rule 9.2 (f):
Any player or team official who engages in verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on discriminatory grounds (race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language) shall be assessed a Gross Misconduct penalty and the Referee shall report full details of the incident to the President.
Notwithstanding the above, at the discretion of the Referee, a Gross Misconduct penalty may be assessed for any infraction to any player or team official.