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Thunder Cats fined, placed on probation for hazing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has fined the Creston Valley Thunder Cats an undisclosed amount and placed the team on probation for two years after investigating allegations of hazing.

In addition, captain Clayton Brown has been suspended for 12 games retroactive to Friday for violating the league’s individual conduct policy, while alternate captain Campbell McLean has been suspended six games for the same thing.

In a prepared statement, the league said team members will be required to complete training designed to identify and eliminate abuse, bullying and harassment, but they did not say if that applies to everyone on the team or only certain players.

During its probationary period, the team must take “proactive steps to ensure a positive team culture free from abuse, bullying and harassment,” the league said, adding any similar incidents will result in further sanctions.

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The league did not specify exactly what the allegations involved, but said they were notified of an incident by team staff last Tuesday. Team activities were immediately suspended, including the cancellation of the team’s exhibition game the following evening, while the league gathered more information.

League staff interviewed players and coaches on Thursday and consulted ITP Sports and BC Hockey.

“The KIJHL is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our athletes, volunteers, staff and fans,” commissioner Jeff Dubois said in a news release.

“What occurred in Creston was unacceptable, and the discipline imposed against the Thunder Cats organization and members of the team reflect our zero-tolerance approach to these types of incidents.

“Our investigation made clear that we have considerable work to do in order to educate our players on the standard of behaviour and leadership expected of them in a team environment. We take this responsibility seriously, and we are taking immediate steps to address this issue.”

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