Pender apologizes on Twitter

Kenn Oliver
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Video of his actions at world ball hockey goes viral

Justin Pender

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.


Organizations: Yahoo!, Toronto Sun, CBS Sports

Geographic location: Czech Republic, Canada, Slovakia Portugal

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Recent comments

  • Penders Biggest Fan
    June 12, 2013 - 06:56

    I would of done the same as Pender, if Jan Bacovsky was going to talk a big game or act like a hero he should of been ready to back it up.

    • Several
      June 12, 2013 - 08:11

      Using your logic, only the biggest and toughest guy is allowed to talk. Too many things went wrong leading up to the "incident". Pender went too far and he knows it.

  • Read elsewhere
    June 11, 2013 - 23:10

    I read elsewhere Ryan is defending Pender. Ryan, better off staying quiet. The Czechs were taunting, diving, spitting and whatever. Where were the coaches???? If the refs couldn't speak English, couldn't the coaches phone somebody before it got out of hand?? Pender was wrong but this could have been prevented earlier in the game. Let's hear from the Czechs.

  • Several
    June 11, 2013 - 22:42

    For anybody defending Pender, take another look. He chased the guy about 75 feet, threw about 15-20 punches ... and the other guy obviously didn't want to fight. Pender is a lot bigger. He admits he was wrong. Let's hope he doesn't go after the guy that suspends him. I expect there will be comments from NHL fighters that say Pender was wrong.

  • A mom
    June 11, 2013 - 21:56

    I am a mom of a young teenage boy am I ever glad he has no interest in hockey,if this kid can't play a game and play it like a good sport then he shouldn't play the game I think he acted like a little spoiled snot.He must have been a real gem going to school if he even graduated.

  • Jay
    June 11, 2013 - 18:31

    Team Canada was an embarrassment. No other Team Canada in any other sport behaved like these guys. It's all egos and many of the Newfoundlander's are the worst including the coaching staff (except for Terry Ryan and O'Keefe- both are very kind and respectful). Instead of developing the sport of ball hockey they are making a joke of it. Pender needs an ego check and needs to start acting like the role model he could be, as he is an excellent hockey player when he can focus on the game and not get derailed by his temper. "Team Canada" (I use that term loosely) was embarrassing and took the loss poorly. No excuses. Time for these Newfoundlander's to check their egos at the door and realize the pride of playing at an international level. As for Pender, I won't be surprised if he's banned for life, it's a sin as he is a quality player but he's old enough to have been able to check his ego and temper a long time ago. Excusable for a teen, not for a man his age.

  • Jackie Barrett
    June 11, 2013 - 18:24

    Since Justin Pender is from the St. John's area, his abusive actions against a player and even officials not only gives Canada a bad name and his own people an international black eye, but also all proud Newfoundlanders and Labradorians athletes like myself whom represent this province at national levels and this country at an international level. If I had my way, this sorry excuse for an athlete whom gives "townies" a bad name with his heinous acts should face a long term suspension from the ISBHF and be banished from ever setting foot on Newfoundland and Labrador again. I apologize in advance if I use the word "townie" to reference Greater St. John's area residents. I represented Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games and Special Olympics World Summer Games numerous times, and if I embarrassed my province and country with heinous acts, guess what, I bet you that Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador or even Special Olympics Nova Scotia will ban me from ever competing at national or international levels for life. In fact, when I was living in Nova Scotia, I know that Special Olympics Nova Scotia has issued lifetime bans on advancement beyond provincial levels to numerous athletes for unsportsmanlike conduct during national and international level events, and even the Canada Games. While a lifetime ban could be ruled out in Pender's case, he should still face lengthy suspension, fines, jail time, and even banishment from Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Whaddaya At
    June 11, 2013 - 17:42

    He intentionally punched the bejazus out of the Czech player, knocked him and a referee to the floor, punched the player several more times, punched the player's goalie in the back of the head several times, and now Pender says that what he did was an 'accident ' ?. Sure by', the Czech player and his goalie accidentally ran into your fist and the ref was accidentally swingin' on your arm when he accidentally fell to the floor.

  • Team Player
    June 11, 2013 - 16:58

    This 'bully' should be banned from ALL team sports! He obviously is not a team player, thinking only of himself and not how is idiotic actions affect his teammates. All brawn, no brains should be his mantra! Go play Golf b'y...then you can beat the crap out of yourself when your score sucks! Forget that too...Golf is a 'gentleman's' game.

  • Paul
    June 11, 2013 - 15:01

    Imagine if the population/politicians put this much energy and passion into our political and social debates. sometimes we really have it all backwards. Glad to see we are pretty good at putting a round ball into some twine very useful.

  • Steve
    June 11, 2013 - 14:28

    Imagine if the roles were reversed and a Canadian player on the receiving end of this? There'd be something said then I bet! Talk about heat of the moment and all that crap; lets look at it from the other side. You're in your early 20's flying to Canada from the Czech Republic to play in a world championships, you find yourself in the semi's against hockey heavyweight Canada who clearly thought they were the better team right from the start of warm up! You pot a couple early goals and the Canadians are coming apart at the seams like children. You continue to stick to the same style and it works. With 10 seconds left you have a 5-1 lead and you're celebrating a huge upset, and this sore loser STARTS it by crosschecking you! I woulda pointed to the scoreboard too, in the heat of the moment! The Canadians weren't prepared to play and were made look bad in every aspect of the game! They were what we call sookie right from the hop and the funniest thing is the amount of diving the "Canadians" did! I understand people defending teammates or family but it doesnt change what really happened! I wouldnt get away with such actions anywhere! Far as im concerned the Portugal team should get the Bronze!

    • Richard Harris
      June 12, 2013 - 06:12

      Hockey Heavyweight? Yet another commentor that knows nothing about the sport. The Czech's were two time defending 'World' champions in this sport, Canada were the underdog, especially with the players they had on the team. Here's a tidbit, Canada did not have its best players. Ontario are hosting their own World Championship with another "Team Canada" later this summer, featuring some players who are much better than what was on the floor for our country at the JBA.

  • Paul
    June 11, 2013 - 12:58

    I understand what it is like to lose in a sports game. Been there and done that. I also know what it is like to win. You can't win everytime. When you lose you have to take it in stride. Not like this guy. Very poor sportsmanship. He embarassed his teammates, himself and the sport. Poor loser, bad attitude and probably should be banned from the sport.

    June 11, 2013 - 12:39

    It is obvious that this guy should be removed form the sport of ball hockey and any other sport that requies him to be part of a team. His behaviour was outrageous and should not be tolerated there is no excuse whatsoever for him to act in that manner. He should be banned from the sport completely and his time would be better spent in anger management classes. You need to grow up. What do you do next when someone cuts you offf in traffic run him off the road.

  • D-MAN
    June 11, 2013 - 12:12

    Well said Edmund.

  • d-man
    June 11, 2013 - 11:58

    To all who are blasting JP. I played ballhockey all my life and have a family member who played for the men. I watched every TEAM CANADA game, the games were clean and provided great sportsmanship. The Czech Rep. have a rep. for taunting , diving and mocking not only there opponents but at the same time you are mocking the refs. You wanna talk sportsmanship, then why is it when you 2 sec from advancing to next round do you continue to mock your opponent. I played against some mean nasty players that were dirty but never did they mock us at the end of a game. In my experience most fights happen because of just what that Czech player did, not because the game was chippy or some guy gave another guy a cheap shot. It's not knowing when to shut up. To the guy who says "just walk away, can't take a little mocking". Where did you want him to go? He was at the face off circle minding his buisness. I'll spend 2 hours with you in enclosed environement and taunt you every chance i get and then we'll see how long it takes before you crack. Unless you have lived playing that game under those conditions please do not judge the actions of another. In conclusion if you believe in KARMA, well the Czechs got it. They go home without the GOLD medal. CONGRATS to the very classy and mock free Slovaks.

    • daniel
      June 11, 2013 - 14:22

      D-Man....I or anyone else could care less if you played ball hockey all of your life. Chances are, everyone reading this story has played some sport(s) in his or her lifetime. Pender should have turned his back to the mocker if it was bothering him to see it. No place in sport and I trust this tier 2 ball hockey tournament won't be back anytime soon. Thanks Pender, you are a real hero buddy.....yeah right!

    • Political Watcher
      June 11, 2013 - 14:40

      Well D-Man, I played competitive sporst and at very a very high level all my life and there is no excuse for what happened here. To make matters worse he calls it an accident, an accident? What was accidental aboutit? he should be banned for life, he should be charged and he should be made to formally apologize to all St. John's. As host city I am sure this will leave a sour taste in mouths. If you are not mature enough to handle a little chirping then you should go back to the beer leagues otherwise grow up. Totally disgusting and an embarrasment to Canada as host

    • derrick
      June 11, 2013 - 15:17 made about as much as sense as Pender's stupid actions. I or anyone else could care less how long you played ball hockey. Chances are most people reading this have played a sport or two. Taunting or not, suck it up. When they sing na na na, hey he good bye at the Bell Centre late in the game as the Habs are winning, do those fans deserve to be assaulted? Think not. I would nothing more than to see Pender's face on the news tonight in handcuffs.

    • Political Watcher Two
      June 12, 2013 - 06:06

      Easy Dougie, you never saw a game all tournament. Stop commenting on things you know nothing about nor witnessed in person. Give it a rest.

  • Edmund
    June 11, 2013 - 11:32

    After watching the video and reading all the sports reports on this game and incident, I will probablly be one of the few that have no problem with what Pender did in the heat of the game. It was quite clear that the Czec team and in particular this player were continually taunting the Canadian players which, in sport and life in general, is the lowest form of insult you can direct at someone. In all of my years of playing many sports at a very competative level if this happened on the field or on the ice there were consequences. Those consequences, and every player that was involved knew, would result in the player doing the taunting getting a good old fashioned s--t knocking from someone on the opposing team and failing that there would be a bench clearing ruckus with many players involved. Pender did nothing wrong here and the fact that an official stupidly got in the way and was injured was a byproduct of something they, the officials had already lost control of and were part of the cause of what had happened. In fact, the goalie who entered the fight should have also been suspended for being the 3rd man in. It is about time the European teams were taught a lesson about taunting other teams (remember Bobby Clarke and the Russians?) and diving etc. so it does not escalate into an unfortunate incident like this one. Mr. Pender should hold his head high for standing up for his teammates and country when being abused and made fun of. What if nobody stood up to Hitler's abusive tactics because someone would get hurt. Move on folks, it's part of the heat of the game that a lot of people don't like but it will happen again. Get over it. Go Canada Go!!

    • Several
      June 11, 2013 - 14:08

      I have played hockey a long time and what the Czech players did was wrong but Pender should have ignored it. Pender was bigger and the other guy didn't want to fight. Both coaches should have called them off the floor. If you don't see anything wrong with it, let's see what happens to Pender.

    • Danny
      June 11, 2013 - 18:47

      No wonder ppl make jokes of Nflders as stupid.That attitude is disrespect of human normal behavioral.The courts are filled daily with lowlife scum who assault others.You of course condone that behavior.

  • Dave
    June 11, 2013 - 11:12

    Maybe next time the guy from the Czech team will learn not to rub it in when a game is out of hand. That's hockey justice justified and I think most of use who played the game believes the same.

  • jim
    June 11, 2013 - 10:01

    He had assaulted one individual and caused injury to another. Has disgraced the country and the sport. He should be banned for life and charged with assault.

  • darren
    June 11, 2013 - 09:42

    Good try Justin but your actions speak much louder than your words. What if someone on George Street was taunting you and no officials were there, what would you do.....kill someone? You have embarrassment our province and what should have been a memorable tournament is now one we all like to forget. You should be charged for this.

  • don
    June 11, 2013 - 09:02

    Amazing criminal charges were not laid. Pointing at scoreboard is no excuse for such a vicious assault. Couldn't take losing.. acted like idiot . Anger management needed for that guy.

  • Several
    June 11, 2013 - 08:39

    One more...the game should have been called after the empty net goal.

  • Several
    June 11, 2013 - 08:34

    Several mistakes here. The Czech player taunting Canada. The ref or coach should have stopped that. Pender should have ignored it. Pender should have stopped after 1 punch. Pender should have stopped when the Czech player backed away. The coach should have called him off the floor. His 4 teammates on the floor should have stopped him. It should not have gone as far as it did. He may be sorry for it but he has to live with the reputation.

  • Played Ball Hockey
    June 11, 2013 - 08:23

    The reason ball hockey sometimes doesn't get the respect it deserves is because of guys like this. His behavior on the floor is inexcusable. And the fact he is a Newfoundlander playing in his home province made it worse. Pender and his team got beat by a better team that day and he didn't like it. Sore loser if you ask me. Grow up and take some anger management classes before someone is seriously hurt by this guy. I also think he should be suspended for two years. The next time it should be for life.

  • John
    June 11, 2013 - 08:19

    If you can't handle some taunting, you shouldn't be playing hockey. He looked like a petulant child in that video, completely uncalled for and highly immature, hopefully he learns a lesson in being an adult from this.

  • Dave
    June 11, 2013 - 08:00

    I just watched the video. What an idiot. How is it that this is considered acceptable behavior? He should be criminally charged. Thanks for making a wonderful event about you and bringing shame on your province. What an idiot.

  • GJR
    June 11, 2013 - 07:51

    Within the first couple of minutes of the game Pender drew a penalty for shoving a Czech player into the boards while he was running towards the boards for the ball....a very dangerous checking from behind. The Czechs scored on that powerplay. The Czechs had every right to taunt Canada as they were likely tired of some of the dirty play by a few of the Canadian players. Seems to me the Czechs were in physically better shape than they Canadians and probably better skilled. Regardless the incident was unfortunate! I did however enjoy the ball hockey tournament and the skill of the teams...I also could have done without some of the dangerous high sticking and dangerous checking from behind. Greay job to the organizers!!!

  • Steve
    June 11, 2013 - 07:46

    "I think journalism schools in the future will just teach students to report what other people tweet" - Seth Macfarlane

  • original townie
    June 11, 2013 - 07:44

    Obviously Pender does not get the concept of good sportsmanship : (

  • Jack
    June 11, 2013 - 07:28

    The ISBHF should also crack down on players whom smoke as well. In fact, when I was in the St. John's area during the weekend, I saw many players from USA and even Switzerland smoking cigarettes, which sets a terrible example for other athletes and their fans. Besides, if the NFL bans players from smoking or even consuming alcohol due to their Substance Abuse Policy, the ISBHF should do the same to their Ball Hockey Players.

  • doug
    June 11, 2013 - 07:18

    No wonder he probably grew up watching ice hockey where fights are the norm.