Likely a joke gone awry, says Johnson
By Heather Killen
An incident involving air guns at a local high school hockey game was likely a joke gone awry, rather than an intent to injure.
Play was interrupted during a high school hockey game between Middleton Regional High School and West Kings on January 24, after the referee was hit in the back with a BB.
Game referee Tom Baker said he noticed BBs lying on the ice at the beginning of the game but didn’t think anything about it. “Then in the middle of the third period, I heard a crack,” he said.
A little while later he heard a louder bang and then felt something hit him in the back. He said he stopped play and asked the rink staff to clear students from that section of the stands.
Baker added that until then, it had been a good game. Baker has been a referee for high school hockey games for several years, and said that this is the first time he has had a problem. “Middleton is a model team to referee and the fans are the same,” he said. “This is just an isolated event, where a couple of kids made a bad choice.”
A member of the Middleton and District Arena agreed that it was more likely an isolated event caused by an error in judgement. “Kids will be kids. You can’t string someone up for a mistake,” said Albert Johnson, of the rink commission. “And fortunately no one was hurt.”
Johnson had taken his grandsons to watch the game, but said he left at the end of the second period because it was very cold.
When he left the rink around 5:45 p.m., he said he didn’t notice anything out of place going on. “It was a smaller crowd than I would have expected and if anything, I thought they were a bit subdued,” he said.
Johnson said he first learned of the incident around 6:30 p.m., when rink staff called him at home.
He added that the rink commission hasn’t discussed the incident, but likely will at their next regular meeting. Johnson said he hopes that they will view the incident as an isolated one and not punish the group for the actions of a few individuals. “It had nothing to do with the team, or the players. It was just a few people who made an error in judgement.”
Corporal Steve Hudson, of the Middleton RCMP, said that one air gun was seized by police and charges are pending against several individuals.
Police are still interviewing witnesses.