Parents want arrest after son 'deliberately kicked' in neck during Edmonton hockey game
Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions and images.
A Junior C hockey player says he is lucky to be alive after his neck was sliced open by a hockey skate last week in an act his parents believe – and the referee ruled – was an intentional kick.
"I was on the ice. He stepped on my head," Richie Compo recalls of the Sept. 27 incident at Castle Downs Recreation Centre in north Edmonton.
"I checked my neck, my hand, there was blood. So I ripped off my helmet."
Compo – who plays for the Junior Braves in the Noralta Junior C Hockey League – recalls begging for the help of the opposing team's trainer, who jumped on the ice to assist.
"I looked him dead in the eyes [and said] 'Don't let me die. Please don't let me die. I don't want to die," Compo told CTV News Edmonton.
"There was no, no pain, it was just 'I'm dead.' That’s all I could think was 'I'm dead.'"
The 20-year-old was rushed from the rink in an ambulance. He received more than a dozen stitches and spent the night in hospital.
He was wearing a mandatory cage on his helmet and a neck guard at the time but said the skate nearly nicked his jugular anyway.
Richie Compo's neck after he was cut by skate in north Edmonton on September 27, 2023. (Credit: Peggy McMillan)
'VIOLENT CONSIDERING THE VULNERABLE POSITION': REF
The player accused of kicking him, Nate Plaunt of the South West Zone Oil Kings, was given a match penalty with 57 seconds left in the game. The final score was 9-5 for the Oil Kings.
In his written incident report to Hockey Alberta, game referee Spencer Acheson stated that he gave Plaunt a match penalty for "deliberately kicking" an opponent in his "neck/face area."
"I considered the act to be a kicking motion and one that was violent considering the vulnerable position of the Braves player," the report states.
Plaunt received an automatic three-game suspension and will have a discipline hearing on Thursday where league officials can decide to ban him for longer.
Chris Hurley, the president of the NJHL, declined to comment to CTV News Edmonton until after the hearing is complete.
"I am very sorry for your son’s injury and suffering," Hurley wrote in an email to Compo's parents.
"It has been and always will be the intention and purpose of the Noralta Junior Hockey League to [provide] a safe and enjoyable league for our players, volunteers and our fans."
Richie Campo and Peggy McMillan in an interview with CTV News Edmonton on October 3, 2023. (CTV News Edmonton)
ASSAULT COMPLAINT FILED
Police are also investigating the on-ice incident as an "alleged assault," a spokesperson for Edmonton Police Service confirmed Tuesday, while saying he had no other details to share.
"That boy looked around, lifted his leg, like a stomping motion, and right on my son’s head," said Peggy McMillan, Richie's mom.
She believes what happened at the rink was assault with a weapon and should be dealt with not only by league officials but also in a courtroom.
"If this were to happen off the ice, not be a hockey player, you’d be charged. Mistake, impulsive thing, it doesn’t matter. That impulsive decision coulda took my son's life," she said.
"There’s consequences for actions, they’re not little boys, they’re in their, you know, 18 to 21. They know right from wrong."
Compo also believes the kick was intentional but said he wasn't sure his neck was the target.
"I don't think he meant to kill me. He didn't mean to step on my head, but maybe my arm or chest or something," he said.
"That's too much. That's so unnecessary, so unneeded."
On Thursday, police asked anyone with video of the incident or who witnessed it to call them at 780-423-4567.
CTV News Edmonton reached out to both the Junior Braves and South West Zone Oil Kings for comment on this story.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson
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