17 Out Of 20 Players Suspended Over Booze

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17 out of 20 players suspended over booze

An alleged underaged drinking incident and resulting suspensions of nearly all the members of a Winnipeg high school hockey team have put the squad’s season on thin ice.

Sturgeon Heights Collegiate was shaken this week when 17 of its hockey players were suspended – apparently most, if not all, of them for five games – by its district school division because of accusations of alcohol consumption in a hotel room in Brandon, where the team was in a tournament several days ago.

“Drinking is unacceptable at any school event,” Morris Glimcher, executive director of the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association, told the Winnipeg Sun on Saturday.

“A five-game suspension – that’s not out of line at all. There’s a consequence to something like that.”

Glimcher, who hadn’t known about the suspensions until Saturday, added that “it’s rare that you would have (almost) the whole team drinking. I don’t hear that too often. “

However, Ed Hume, a trustee with the St. James-Assiniboia School Division, told the Sun after talking to some parents of the suspended players that “these things happen,” and that all the facts should come out before penalties are made official.

“I think the feeling is that they know the boys had done something wrong,” he said of the parents. “They just want to make sure that what happens with the disciplinary action is fair and reasonable.”

Hume wasn’t yet clear on details of the disciplinary action, though sources said at least most of the accused boys – virtually all of whom are below Manitoba’s legal drinking age of 18 – have been told they will sit out five games.

With 17 of the 20 players removed from action, a source said, it puts the St. James high school possibly in danger of “folding” the team for the rest of its season.

Requesting anonymity, the source close to the school said the team has “missed at least one” scheduled game this week due to the benched players, and that “community service hours” are also part of the penalty meted out by the St. James-Assiniboia division.

At least one of the accused players’ mothers is “very upset,” the source said.

The Brandon incident and suspensions will be discussed at a meeting of the division’s board on Tuesday.

“My understanding is that the administration is going to propose some kind of direction that they want to see, and we’ll have to decide whether it’s fair and reasonable,” said Hume, who didn’t know whether the team’s coach is facing blame.

“We’ll have to look at what has happened already, and where we want to go from here.”

Glimcher echoed Hume’s concerns about getting all sides of the story.

“They have to see the circumstances,” Glimcher said, noting that players could have “snuck in” beer or liquor to the hotel.

Ross Romaniuk

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