Courtesy Hiawatha Broadband Communications
WINONA, Minn. - Ten high school hockey players were ejected from their game Thursday night after a skater from Winona was checked dangerously from behind into the boards.
The hit was similar to the one that paralyzed Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Jack Jablonski last week.
A fight broke out on the ice after the hit during the Owatonna-Winona game.
"We're obviously very sorry," admits Owatonna's Head Coach Josh Storm. "We're very apologetic about the hit."
Winona junior Ryan Grant was hit in the back while after playing the puck behind the Owatonna net. After taking the check, Grant stood up and jumped on the Owatonna player who hit him.
"It's pretty stupid by that player to think he can do that," Grant told HBC-TV 25 after the game. Grant called it a bad decision on both of their parts.
Other players jumped in to join the melee, which lasted around 30 seconds. Five players from each team were ejected. According to Minnesota State High School League rules players involved in fighting receive an additional one-game suspension.
Winona head coach Fran McDevitt said his team would not have reacted that way before the Jablonski injury. "I think it was an overreaction to what the situation was," McDevitt told HBC-TV 25.
Winona Athletic Director Clark Jones told KARE 11 he's thankful nobody was seriously hurt and he's very sorry for what happened.
"What happened to Jack is in the back of every hockey player's mind but I'm not excusing what happened," Jones said. He's hopeful the team can learn from what happened and grow from it in terms of handling emotions during a game.
He did say there will be swift and immediate action for what happened but did not elaborate or give specifics.
Jones also said their prayers are with Jack Jablonski and his family.
Owatonna head coach Josh Storm called the scuffle a "regrettable situation" and will continue to reinforce what's legal and what's illegal.
"It's a reminder for us that it needs to constantly be preached. We know, there's no place for it in hockey," said Storm. "My kids aren't cheap and they're not dirty players. It's just an unfortunate situation."
He also said the officials handled the situation very well.
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