Brawl between player, fan erupts in the stands at Alta. junior game after mom pushed: coach
A junior hockey player in Stony Plain, Alta., has been suspended for eight games after he went into the stands to fight a fan, but his coach says he was defending his mom at the time.
The brawl happened Jan. 21 during a game between the Stony Plain Flyers and the Strathcona Bruins at Glenn Hall Arena west of Edmonton.
Video of the brawl, captured by spectators, shows the Flyers' Nichlas Johnson and a young man in the stands, yelling at each other while two women stand between them.
Johnson, 21, then charges into the stands toward the fan, before the two trade blows.
Other spectators rush to break up the battle, while the two women are shoved aside. In a second video angle, a referee and two linesmen watch from the ice
Johnson's coach, Craig Leibel, admits it's not a good look for his player, but he claims the video doesn't tell the whole story.
"People are seeing a 10-second clip and passing judgement immediately as to reflect on the player, our team, hockey in general. And I just don't think that's necessarily a correct assessment," Leibel said in an interview with CTV News Edmonton.
Leibel claims a group of unnamed spectators actually started the fight.
"We had a group of fans that came in, that I think were kind of, looking to start something. And they had been pretty rowdy in the stands," he explained.
"It escalated to the fan actually pushing (Johnson's) mom…obviously you can imagine what it would be like if you saw your mom being pushed in the stands…he provoked him and off (Johnson) went."
The video is shaky and obstructed, but does not clearly show a woman being shoved by the fan.
'WE ARE VERY DISSAPOINTED'
An RCMP spokesperson said an officer was patrolling the area, but didn't respond to the fight inside the arena.
Johnson, who leads his team in penalty minutes and is among the league leaders with 105 minutes in the box, was suspended five games for going into the stands and three games for "intent to injure."
"The CJHL has suspended the player as per the suspension guidelines of the league. We are very disappointed in the actions of the player involved but will have no further comment," said Larry Lepine, president of the Capital Junior Hockey League.
Leibel said he respects that decision, adding that Johnson will serve his suspension without fighting it, but he wonders why the fan that was involved appears to be facing no consequences.
"Absolutely (Johnson) is going to suffer his consequences for his actions. But what about the fan? What about the person who was provoking the whole thing in the beginning and pushed the mom in the stands? He can walk away."
Through Leibel, CTV News Edmonton asked Johnson for comment but he did not respond.
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