Video of his actions at world ball hockey goes viral
Justin Pender wants to put an ugly incident during Canada’s semifinal loss at the world ball hockey championships — one involving him, two Czech Republic players and a referee — behind him.
That could be difficult after a video of his violent altercation drew widespread attention Monday, getting picked up by Yahoo! Sports, the Toronto Sun and CBS Sports, and countless other media outlets and online forums
“I just want it to blow over,” Pender said when contacted by the Telegram Monday evening.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
But he did write about it.
Pender took to Twitter (@jpender24) on Monday afternoon, offering an apology for his actions at the end of his team’s semifinal game at the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF) event.
“After the hockey game was over, I let the behavior of a member on the opposing team anger me. My response to the taunting was misguided and someone was injured because of it,” Pender stated in his Twitter letter.
“Had I stayed calm and simply walked away, this accident would have not occurred.
Pender, went on to write that, “As a member of a team hosting an international event I should have set a higher standard of sportsmanship for myself but I did not and it reflected poorly upon my team who worked so hard for this competition.
“Going forward, I will make every effort to prevent this from happening again by remembering how my actions have impacted myself and those around me. I will be setting a higher standard for myself and my actions in order to develop better sportsmanship.”
With 1.3 seconds to play in the Czech Republic’s 5-1 win, Pender can be seen giving Jan Bacovsky, who just scored his team’s fifth goal into an empty, a punch in his chest. Bacovsky approaches Pender again, pointing to the scoreboard, at which time Pender crosschecks him and checks him again only to be separated by a referee.
Seconds later, Bacovsky is pointing at the scoreboard again when Pender goes around the referee and proceeds to push him towards the Czech net, throwing punches the whole way, while the referee tries to break them up. After Pender, Bacovsky, and the German referee go down in a pile, Czech goalie Lukas Heczko dives over his teammate to protect him from Pender’s continuing barrage of punches.
After Pender rights himself, he tries to pull Heczko off, but ends up falling in the process, taking down Slovakian referee Marek Kralovic in the process. Pender then gets him up and proceeds to land several punches to the back of Heczko’s head before teammates pull him off. In the aftermath, Heczko and Kralovic both remain on the floor with apparent injuries.
Heczko recovered and played in Sunday’s gold-medal game, which saw the Czechs lose 2-1 to Slovakia. However, Kralovic had to be taken off the floor on a stretcher having suffered a knee injury.
Pender told the Telegram that he plans to reach out to the injured referee as soon as he has contact information.
Canada defeated Portugal in the bronze-medal game Sunday, but Pender did not play.
Pender has been suspended indefinitely by the ISBHF while he awaits a ruling on the length of his suspension. Team Canada’s assistant coach Ian Moores says the Czechs are seeking a lifetime ban for Pender.
“No doubt, he has to be suspended,” Moores says, “I just hope they don’t try to make an example of him by throwing the book at him too hard. He’s very remorseful.”
Moores, while not suggesting Pender’s actions were justified, says there were a lot of factors that led to frustrations boiling over. First and foremost was the poor sportsmanship on the part of the Czechs, who he says were taunting the Canadians often after establishing an early 4-0 lead. Secondly, Moores suggests the referees, rather than try to have one final faceoff with a game already decided, should have called it there.
“It was already a hostile environment at that point,” Moores maintains.
ISBHF President George Gortsos could not be reached for comment.