LITTLETON, Colo. — A teen was cited for assault after kicking another teen in the head with his skate multiple times during a hockey game Saturday at the Ice Ranch in Littleton.
The incident, which was captured on a livestream, happened in the second period of a scoreless game between Denver East's JV club team and the Arapahoe Warriors U18 club team, according to the teams.
Denver East was defending a 5-3 powerplay, and the victim was the only defenseman on the ice.
The video shows the victim, who plays for Denver East, and suspect, who plays for the Arapahoe Warriors, going into the corner of the ice, getting tangled and falling. When the suspect moves to get up, the victim can be seen on the suspect's stick.
The suspect is then seen trying to skate away before turning and kicking the victim in the head three times. Another player from the victim's team is then seen skating over and talking the suspect off the victim and into the boards.
>Video of the incident can be seen below:
The teens had to be separated by referees who made the decision to end the game due to the severity of the incident, the tournament director said. The teens were placed in separate locker rooms and the teams were escorted off the property to avoid any further confrontation.
The victim, identified by his father as 15-year-old Xander Keenan, had some brusing but will be okay. Keenan told police after the incident that he had a headache, but did not have any cuts to his face, head or neck.
He returned to playing hockey Tuesday after taking a few days off as a precaution.
Xander's father, Mickey Keenan, said his son was "in shock" after the incident."
The victim told officers he was skating toward the corner to get the puck when he was tripped by the suspect's skate and landed on the suspect's stick, according to the report. The suspect pushed the victim further toward the ice as the suspect attempted to grab the stick, and when the victim tried to get up again, the opposing player pushed him back down on top of the stick, he told police.
The victim then said he felt three kicks to his head, and then saw the suspect fighting the victim's teammates in the corner, according to the report. The victim also said he did not have any previous issues with the suspect before the kicking incident happened.
The suspect told officers he and the victim fell over, and he was trying to skate away when he felt that he couldn't because the victim was holding his leg, the report says. He said he stood up and kicked the victim, who didn't let go, so he kicked again. He told officers he then kicked the victim a third time because he still had not let go.
The suspect then said he realized "oh s---" and explained he meant that he realized he probably could have killed the victim, according to the report.
The suspect then said he understood his reaction to the situation was unreasonable, the report says. When the officer asked about any issues leading up to the kicking, the suspect said the victim was: "pissing him off and based on just s--- talking, just being a nuisance and picking at you."
The victim denied "verbally abusing" the suspect or his teammates, according to the report.
The father of the suspect did apologize to the victim's family for his son's behavior, and the suspect also wrote an apology to the victim, the report says.
"Any team that I’ve been involved in, this is ten times worse than anything I’ve seen," said the director of the Denver East program John Kopperud. "Kicking is a huge, huge penalty. Deservedly so."
The Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) said it will formally discipline the player within 30 days and he remains suspended. Based on USA Hockey guidelines, he could face a 10-game suspension for acting with intent to injure another player.
"You could see what the intent of the kicks were because it kept coming," Kopperud said. "That’s not what you see when you go out and watch a hockey game."
A spokesperson for the Arapahoe Warriors team said it has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior and coaches will use the incident as a "learning experience about how to handle emotions during a game."
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