Police investigating after Saanich minor hockey player injured during game

The father of a Saanich boy, who suffered a ruptured spleen following a Sept. 23 minor hockey game in Nanaimo, has asked police to investigate the incident.

Gary O'Brien, Nanaimo RCMP media relations officer, confirmed Monday they are following up on the complaint, stemming from an alleged incident of spearing, which involves jabbing an opponent with the blade of a hockey stick. The injury occurred during a Bantam Tier 1 game between the Saanich Braves and the Nanaimo Clippers. Both teams are made up of 13-and 14-year-olds.

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There are varying accounts as to what occurred. Jim Humphrey, president of the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association said they opened an investigation days after the game and that results were "inconclusive."

The player was not suspended until Oct. 21, said Nanaimo coach Chris Turnbull, and was only suspended pending the results of the police investigation.

VIAHA officials declined to comment further on the case because of the involvement of the RCMP.

Saanich assistant coach Blaine Redmond said his son noticed something was amiss with his teammate after the game.

"He said, 'Dad, something's really wrong,'" said Redmond. "We thought it must have been something internal because his skin was really white."

It was near the end of the game the injury occurred, said Redmond. The player's father then took him to

hospital. Redmond said that in his over 20 years of coaching he doesn't remember seeing this type of injury before.

Roberta Bortolotto, president of the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association, said there was no penalty issued at the time of the incident. She added that she thought there was a lot of "grey area" concerning the incident, and any implication that happened with malicious intent on the part of the Nanaimo player was "ridiculous."

"There's an inherent risk that we all accept in full-contact competitive sports," said Bortolotto. "There's a huge size differential in these kids, these 14-yearolds that are second-years, they've hit their growth spurts, they've hit puberty, they're big, they're strong. It's just that that risk is always potentially there."

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