Suspended state: ISBHF decision on Pender in ‘a week or two’

Kenn Oliver
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Whatever the penance, federation president doesn’t expect it to be contested

Justin Pender


Canadian ball hockey player Justin Pender could be waiting a while to find out just how long his suspension from international ball hockey will be.

On Tuesday, International Street and Ball Hockey Federation president George Gortsos told the Telegram that the organization’s disciplinary committee should have a final decision in “a week or two.”

“This is a rare thing,” says Gortsos, also executive director of the Canadian Ball Hockey Association and a former national men’s team coach.

“I couldn’t even speculate (the length), because I don’t think we have a precedent.”

“There are people on the board (of directors) who were watching. I’m pretty sure when we get a decision from the committee, nobody’s going to contest it.”

With the Czech Republic leading Canada 5-1 with 1.3 seconds to play in their semifinal, Pender and Jan Bacovsky, who had just scored an empty net goal, met near the faceoff circle, where the St. John’s native took exception to something the Czech player said. Eventually, the situation boils over with Pender chasing Bacovsky to the opposite end of the rink throwing punches along the way as a referee tries to intervene.

After the three fall near the Czech net, goalie Lukas Heczko dives over his teammates to protect him, at which point Pender tries to remove the goaltender while the second referee, Marek Kralovic of Slovakia, tries to intervene. In the end, Pender is pulled off by his teammate, leaving Kralovic and Heczko on the floor with apparent injuries.

“I was there, but I did not see it,” says Gortsos, who hasn’t seen a fan video  drawing much attention on YouTube (

“When they called me out, it was already done.”

Gortsos says he went directly to the injured referee and travelled with him to hospital where he was treated for a knee injury. By Sunday evening, Gortsos says Kralovic was walking without the aid of crutches.

Heczko went on to play in Sunday’s championship game, a 2-1 loss to Slovakia.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Canadian Ball Hockey Association said it doesn’t condone Pender’s actions and will be issuing formal apologies “to the Czech team as well as the president and board of the Czech Association.”

In addition to any disciplinary action from the ISBHF, Pender — who has been suspended indefinitely as he awaits the federation’s decision — will also be subject to a disciplinary hearing with the CBHA.

Despite the negative attention the sport is receiving, Gortsos isn’t overly concerned with how the incident may affect public perception of the game.

“This was an isolated incident. Internationally, it’s something that doesn’t happen in our sport. It’s not like the NHL or professional hockey leagues. We don’t have these kinds of incidents.”


Organizations: Czech Association, NHL

Geographic location: Slovakia

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Recent comments

  • marian
    June 14, 2013 - 06:16

    He will not be charged as both the referee and the delegation went back home already. They'd have to stay in Canada, hire lawayer, etc. Too time consuming, too costly. According to the referee, Canadian trainer sent Pender there by purpose, to fight... And he said he was verbally attacked and spitted on by canadien players during the game and that Pender stepped on him by purpose. Great "sportmanship" on the canadian side...

  • Pete
    June 12, 2013 - 22:08

    What emotions??? Canada were losing 5-1... He is a cowboy with a loaded gun and is highly dangerous. The charges should be filed against him in the criminal court and the czech players should take him to court and sue him for damages on top of his lifetime ban from hockey. This is not sport. What sort of example are we setting for the youngsters?

  • Doug
    June 12, 2013 - 09:06

    Suspend him for life, and while they're at it, perhaps make anyone playing in a professional league (if the ECHL where Pender plays can actually be called professional) ineligible. According to Gortsos, they don't have these kinds of incidents in ball hockey and he makes a distinction between ball hockey and professional leagues. Let the goons stay in the professional leagues.

  • Why not?
    June 12, 2013 - 08:23

    “There are people on the board (of directors) who were watching" Did they see the taunting, diving and spitting????? If they know hockey, they should have done something earlier in the game.

    • Brent
      June 12, 2013 - 08:35

      The taunting and diving shouldn't matter. I'm sure the Canadian team were saying just as much as the Czechs, and they were diving as well. Pender was the one that snapped and he needs to face the consequences.

    • Why not?
      June 12, 2013 - 09:04

      If Canada was taunting and diving just as much, somebody should have seen what was going to happen. Spitting is as bad as a stick to the head, from behind. I am not defending Pender. He went way too far, but it could have been prevented. Wasn't this an adult tournament???

  • Todd
    June 12, 2013 - 07:36

    Mr. Pender's actions is by far not acceptable and if he can't accept loosing a game he should not be playing. I have played hockey for years and your emotions do run very high. Sometimes they are good or bad, But something like this should deserve a severe punishment. I would would not give him a life ban but at least a 3-5 year ban from the sport would fit. Besides what he did to the other player you have to look at what happened to the ref.

    • darrell
      June 12, 2013 - 08:41

      Good points Todd.....though I would go the upper limit of 5 years. And you know, with the video its hard to understand why he wouldn't be charged.