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Brantford teen convicted of on-ice assault of Woodstock player in January 2013 hockey game

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

A melee ensued near the end of a Jan. 13, 2013, game between the midget Woodstock Jr. Navy Vets and Brantford 99ers at Southwood Arena. (Submitted photo)

A melee ensued near the end of a Jan. 13, 2013, game between the midget Woodstock Jr. Navy Vets and Brantford 99ers at Southwood Arena. (Submitted photo)

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A Woodstock judge has found a Brantford teen guilty of assault causing bodily harm for repeatedly punching a Woodstock player in the head at the end of an emotional major midget Navy Vets game more than two years ago.

The victim, who was 16 at the time, suffered a broken nose, black eyes and symptoms associated with a concussion after a tense and aggressive game against the Brantford 99ers at Southwood Arena.

Videotaped by the victim's mother, the game became national news after she brought the footage to the CBC.

Video screened in court shows the victim crosschecked from behind, then punched 11 times by the accused after his helmet was removed and he collapsed on the ice. The Woodstock player, who did not fight back during the line brawl, covered his face with arms and hands. ​

Woodstock police charged the player, who can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, in June of 2013.

“This is not a trial about hockey or fighting in hockey,” said Justice M. Edward Graham while reading aloud selected portions of his written decision Wednesday.

Graham referred to the assault as fueled by anger and an “intentional retaliatory attack” that was “outside of accepted standards of which the game was played.”

“(The player) must have known his conduct was inherently dangerous,” he said.

Late in the third period of the game, the victim shot the puck at the opposing net, skated towards the goalie and stopped abruptly as the whistle was blown.

During the trial he testified he unintentionally snowed, or sprayed ice, at the goalie. And while he realized his actions were considered disrespectful, he said normally retribution would come in the form of a cross check or push.

After the incident the victim skated off the ice before visiting Woodstock Hospital’s emergency room. At the advice of a physician he ended up sitting out several hockey games.

During the trial the accused, who was 17 at the time of the game, admitted he broke the code of hockey but denied being out of control.

“I took it too far,” he testified.

But the teen said his team was losing, they were upset with the referees and one of the Brantford players had been severely injured earlier in the game.

After the victim snowed the goalie, the accused said "chaos ensued" and other players started piling in.

He said he was surprised the victim didn’t fight back after breaching the unwritten rule of not messing with the other team’s goalie.

“At that level of hockey and that level of playing, anyone else would have reacted,” he said.

The teen will be sentenced on April 15.

heather.rivers@sunmedia.ca