Midget hockey player speaks out after alleged racial slur at game prompts brawl
A suspension, hearing and possible charges are in the air after a racial slur was allegedly hurled at a 16-year-old Black hockey player during a U18 Midget game just west of the Island of Montreal.
Aiden Chase plays left wing for the Ile-Perrot Riverains and has played hockey for 12 years. He is speaking out along with his coaches and parents about what transpired during a game in Valleyfield Saturday night against the Valleyfield Braves.
"As the game ended and I went towards my goalie at the end of the game, a player that had got off the bench from the other team, past me and made the comment," said Chase. "That's when I turned around and went to confront him."
Chase tussled with a few Brave players, but video shows it is a small altercation and no punches were thrown.
The referee broke the fight up, and then Chase went to tell his coach what happened.
Coach Jason McCaig went to the referee to chat, and was told that the referee heard the slur and that the penalty would be noted on the score sheet.
As he was chatting, "all hell broke loose," he said.
"That's when they all went over and a big brawl between the two teams started," said Chase.
Video of the fight shows McCaig approaching the players and trying to break them up before a Braves coach pushes him to the ice.
"I grabbed one of our players by the back of the jersey and pushed him towards our end of the ice," said McCaig, who was in dress shoes at the time. "As I turned around, the Valleyfield coach was running at me and sent me flying with a shove with both hands to the chest... It's extremely dangerous. To be honest with you, it's a miracle I didn't smash my head on the ice. Unbelievable."
McCaig told a parent to call the police.
While walking to the change rooms, McCaig said a Valleyfield parent threw a garbage pail lid at his co-coach and hit him on the head. He added that other parents were taunting his players but left when they saw the coaches.
The Surete du Quebec confirmed that a complaint was filed in Valleyfield and that an investigation is ongoing about the alleged assault.
It is not the first time the Riverains have had an issue with the Valleyfield team this year, according to both the player and coach.
Chase said he heard from a teammate that a player on the Braves had made a similar slur in a prior game, but he did not hear it.
On Saturday, however, there was no way he couldn't hear what was being said to him.
"At first I was shocked about what had happened because I wasn't expecting it, but I was also really upset, understandably too," said Chase.
The winger said he had no recollection of any earlier altercation from the player in question throughout the game and doesn't remember seeing him on the ice.
His mother, Laurie Phillips, was in the stands watching with the other parents and said she knew what was going on based on the history between the two teams.
"You're sitting there, sort of hoping that it doesn't deteriorate, the situation, and kind of feeling helpless that you can't do anything," said Phillips, who was in the stands along with Chase's father Dwight Chase.
Phillips was aware of what happened the prior game, and knows her son typically has a calm temperament. She knew very quickly that something had been said to her son.
"The way that he reacted, he never does that," she said. "I knew that there's only one reason why he would turn around and go confront somebody face-to-face, and, actually, I have to say I was really proud of how restrained he was. He didn't throw punches. He made it clear that he heard it and it wasn't okay, and then he immediately went to his coaches."
Seeing Chase after the game, McCaig was disheartened.
"He's one of the nicest, softest kids you're ever going to meet," said the coach. "It's just a shame that he's had to suffer that for the second time... It's horrible."
The player is facing a five-game suspension at minimum, according to the coach, with further punishment possible.
The league could not comment on the brawl or abuse but said it was concerned about the situation and taking them seriously.
"These are not the actions and values we want to pass on to our youth. Hockey is an inclusive sport that promotes, among other things, the values of camaraderie and respect where everyone can develop and achieve healthily," said the league in an email. "As the people involved will be called before a disciplinary committee, we do not comment on this matter."
Chase said his teammates and coaches have been very supportive throughout the ordeal and wants to encourage other players of colour that they are not alone if they find themselves in a similar situation.
"I can't promise to anyone that it will never happen," he said. "With that, there's always a way to rise above it. People like your teammates, your parents, your coaches, and others around you are there to help you through it and get the word out about it."
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