A 17-year-old Ontario hockey player has been charged with assault, months after another teenage player was punched in the face and head repeatedly during a midget 'A' game.
"We are very well aware the subject of this investigation has garnered intense public attention across Canada and we respect there are passionate opinions on both sides of the physical aspect of hockey,” Woodstock police Chief Rod Freeman said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“The decision to lay a criminal charge was not taken lightly and was based on an objective review of the evidence, including video evidence, and on factually based legal opinions from the Crown Attorney's Office.”
The teen charged in the case cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 11.
The parents of the 16-year-old victim in the assault came forward to CBC News Go Public with video evidence earlier this month.
Julie Major said on Tuesday that police in Woodstock, Ont., called her husband, Wes Major, and told him that after a "heated debate" with the Crown attorney, they had decided to lay charges in the incident involving her son.
In the statement released on Wednesday, Woodstock police noted that investigators had requested a legal opinion from the Crown Attorney’s Office as to whether criminal charges can be applied to what happens on the ice.
During a hockey game in January, the 16-year-old skated toward the opposing net near the end of the third period. When the whistle blew, he stopped in front — spraying the opposing team’s goalie with ice.
In apparent retaliation, a Brantford player cross-checked him from behind. Other players crowded the net and fights broke out. With the 16-year-old down on the ice, the same player who checked him then grabbed him, pulled his helmet off, and punched him repeatedly in the head — at least 10 times — before the linesman was able to pull him off.
Both boys were suspended for fighting — the 16-year-old for two games and the 17-year-old for four, because it was his second fight of the season.
But a video taken by the victim's mother shows her son didn’t fight back. He took the blows, then got up and skated to the bench. He suffered a broken nose, concussion, bruises and cuts.