On-ice attack at Duluth High School hockey game leads to sportsmanship

DULUTH — In the dying minutes of a clash between city rivals last week, Denfeld High School’s Cooper McClure grabbed the puck and tried to stuff it into the Duluth East goal — just like he had two times before in this game. But this time, McClure was cross-checked by an East player and was repeatedly punched in the head as he lay face down on the ice.

McClure, who was diagnosed with a concussion, missed two days of school and hasn’t been on the ice since the beatings, although his dad said he could skate later this week.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Jason McClure, who was at the game and has a copy of the video. “I tell people it was surreal. I couldn’t believe the kid reacted the way he did. It just went on and on.”

The Duluth East player was ejected from the game. The incident was investigated internally at Duluth East as an assault, according to Adelle Wellens, spokesperson for the Duluth School District. The results of the investigation and any punishment imposed were not released, with the district citing privacy laws.

“We take acts of violence in this district very seriously and in no way condone the actions of the Eastern Student,” Superintendent John Magas said in a news release, asking the public for help. space for the player and his family.

The Duluth East player was on the roster for the following night’s game against Champlin Park, although he did not appear in the score box. He wasn’t signed up as a skater for a game against Rogers last weekend.

McClure said the investigation did not include any conversations with either of his sons – Cooper McClure’s twin brother Connor was on the ice when it happened – and that they did not haven’t spoken to Denfeld’s coach.

“I was really relying on the school district to do the right thing,” said Jason McClure, an officer with the Duluth Police Department. “Any place other than a hockey rink is an assault.”

On Tuesday, the Duluth School District said in a press release that activity directors at East and Denfeld High Schools will work to create fair-play expectations and specific consequences for violations, which they hope include in the student manual by the 2022-23 school year. . Coaches will also participate in 3Dimensional Coaching, a program that promotes positivity in sports.

It’s work that local coaches had started before COVID-19, according to Tom Pearson, director of activities at Denfeld High School. And the return to work is directly linked to last week’s incident, according to Wellens.

Last week’s game, a 6-2 victory over Denfeld, was the first time the West Duluth School had beaten Duluth East, one of Minnesota’s hottest hockey programs, since 2013.

Catherine J. Martinez