Suspensions for racial slurs at minor hockey game in Prince Edward Island appealed

Calls have been made by five minor hockey players from Prince Edward Island facing 25-game suspensions for allegedly directing racial slurs at a black Nova Scotia goaltender.

Mark Connors, a 16-year-old goaltender with the Halifax Hawks’ U18 AA team, said a group of teenagers made the comments to him during a game in Charlottetown last November.

He said he was repeatedly called the N-word at the rink, and he said other teenagers at a hotel told him hockey was a white man’s sport.

Wayne Connors, Mark’s father, said in an interview Friday that he received an email from Hockey PEI that calls were ongoing. The Canadian Press was able to view the email.

The governing body did not respond to a request for an interview or confirmation of calls.

All five players had been suspended indefinitely following the alleged incidents, before the 25-game sanction was handed down by written decision last month.

Mark Connors and his father both said they were happy with the punishment, saying they hoped it would deter racism at the rink.

In a 24-page decision, a special committee on discipline and ethics found Connors’ testimony that he was taunted in the arena to be credible. Other witnesses provided testimony in support of his claim.

The Hockey PEI Ethics Committee noted that the evidence provided by the five players was “indirect and limited” and that they appeared as a group. Most did not speak directly with the committee via video, and submissions were made on their behalf by their parents.

Hockey PEI says a third-party investigator found inconclusive evidence regarding racial slurs made against Connors at the hotel, citing a lack of witnesses. The five suspended players were unrelated to this incident.

Connors received a letter of apology from Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King.

Catherine J. Martinez