NEWS
02/17/2014 08:11 EST | Updated 04/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Hockey player, 12, hurt in scuffle involving referee, coach

WARNING: Video contains graphic language

The father of a 12-year-boy who was injured during a hockey tournament at a Winnipeg community arena wants a referee to face a criminal charge.

The boy, who was playing in the Southeast Aboriginal Tournament on Sunday, was carried away on a stretcher and taken to hospital after a scuffle with a referee.

The boy, Kainen Bell, is now recovering at home.

"You know, he is sore. He has got a tender neck, bruised back, broken wrist," said his father, Robert Bell.

"It is horrible, absolutely horrible."

Winnipeg police said they were called about a fight at the Southdale Community Centre at about 2 p.m. The teams involved were from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation.

A video taken at the game and posted to YouTube shows referees stepping in to stop a scuffle between Bell and an opposing player, while a woman can be heard shouting, "Hey, get your hands off our kids."

​After the players are separated and while making their way back to their team benches, Bell uses his stick to slash the opponent on the back of the legs.

As the two players begin fighting again, a referee skates in to break it up. He grabs Bell but appears to slip, knocking the boy to the ground as they both fall.

An assistant coach from Bell's team, the Sagkeeng Hawks, runs onto the ice and goes after the referee while other officials and coaches rush to the melee.

Robert Bell insists the referee picked up Kainen and slammed him to the ice, and he wants the referee to be disciplined and criminally charged.

The father also defended the assistant coach's actions, even though they went against hockey rules.

"It seems he was defending our player. You know, my hat goes off to him," Bell said.

"What he did was right because … what would happen if he didn't?"

The video is peppered with swear words from the crowd, mostly directed at the ref who skates off the ice, tossing his helmet down as he goes.

Tensions remained high after the on-ice incident, leading to an altercation between several adults in a hallway between two rinks at the community centre, police said, adding an investigation is underway into whether any charges will be laid.

Referee's defenders

The referee involved in the incident declined comment on Monday. He is 22 years old and certified to referee games, according to officials with the community centre where the tournament took place.

Southdale Community Centre president Todd Thornton called it an unfortunate incident.

“Do I think the referee purposely slammed the boy to the ice? Absolutely not,” he said.

“He did what he needed to do to break up the scrum so nothing else would continue and unfortunately ended up on top of the boy.”

Another referee from the same tournament, Dave Bilyk, also said he does not believe the injury to Bell was deliberate.

Bilyk said he has worked with the referee in question before and described him as a "nice guy" who sees the game well.

"From what I heard, incidents started on ice with him trying to contain a player."

The tournament was not sanctioned by Hockey Manitoba, so officials with the governing body would not comment on the incident.

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