Player jailed for punching referee twice after being ejected from championship

CHARLOTTETOWN — An 18-year-old hockey player from P.E.I. who punched a referee twice in the face, cutting his lip, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Cole Trevor Crane was being escorted off the ice after a fight in the last minute of play in a game at an arena outside Charlottetown on March 26.

It was the championship final between Crane’s Sherwood Falcons Midget AA minor hockey team and the North River Flames, according to an agreed statement of facts filed in provincial court.

Crane had grabbed the jersey of a linesman attempting to break up the fight, and referee John William MacDougall escorted him off the ice, taking Crane by the jersey.

As at least two spectators recorded videos, Crane pushed MacDougall and punched him twice before being restrained by MacDougall, a linesman and Crane’s brother, a teammate on the Falcons.

Crane’s father, who had been watching from the stands, also become involved in the incident.

“As Cole was being restrained, his father James Crane came to the door to the ice surface from the stands. He grabbed Cole and pulled him off the ice, then yelled ‘take your (expletive) hands off my son,’ and he appeared to throw a punch at MacDougall and closely missed,” according to the agreed statement.

MacDougall’s lip was cut, but did not require medical attention. He ran out the remaining seconds of play and ended the game.

Crane, who has no prior record, pleaded guilty to assaulting MacDougall.

Chief Judge Nancy Orr sentenced Crane to 30 days, to be served intermittently, followed by 18 months on probation.

Cyndria Wedge, the province’s director of prosecutions, said the Crown sought a jail term to act as a deterrent to others, and provided the court with a scholarly article on players’ assaults on officials.

She said it noted that judges have compared hockey referees to police officers.

“They’re there to manage and control behaviour, and they’re persons in authority, and I know that our courts deal very strongly with people who obstruct or resist police officers,” she said Thursday.

“This is an assault on an official. In a lot of cases, hockey referees are volunteers. They’re on the ice to do a job. As a society, I think we have an obligation to provide them with some protection whenever these kinds of things occur.”

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