Peter Keough didn’t pull any punches.
“It was embarrassing to us, to the school and the volunteers who give up their time so that we can have a hockey team,” said Keough, head coach of the Gonzaga Vikings’ boys high school side.
Keough was talking about some of his players’ actions in the final seconds of Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the St. John’s high school hockey final against the Holy Heart Highlanders.
Holy Heart won the championship, defeating Gonzaga 3-2 to take the title in three straight games, but ugly incidents involving some Vikings players at the end of the game at Feildian Gardens tarnished what was the final contest of the 2010-11 season.
A fight broke out and several players scuffled with about two seconds left on the clock as the Highlanders holding a one-goal lead.
When referee Sean Lake told the timekeeper to run off the remaining time, several Vikings’ players gathered around Lake and linesman Andrew Connolly, then shouted obscenities at the officials.
“I thought it was ridiculous and I told (the players) so. We (the coaching staff) bawled them out in the dressing room after the game,” said Keough.
“We told them off. We told them if they lose, they should lose with class.”
Telegram photographer Keith Gosse, who was at ice level during the melee, reported seeing the timekeeper hit by a piece of a broken stick, and Gosse had his hand hit by a Vikings’ player as he took photos of the incident.
Gosse was also subjected to verbal abuse by a Gonzaga player.
“He told me to, ‘Get that f---ing camera out of my face,” said Gosse.
“I understand the players were upset, but there was no need of them turning on me.”
League convenor Charlie Decker, who was at the game, said it’s his understanding there were gross misconduct and match penalties handed out and the official scoresheet will be sent to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL).
Decker said it will depend what’s in the referee’s report if there are any suspensions to follow and, if so, they will be handed out by HNL.
“Anything else, we’ll handle internally. Nothing can be decided on that until the referee’s report,” Decker.
Keough, although not condoning his team’s actions in any way, said his players do not “normally” act that way.
He said what frustrated them was that they felt time ran off the clock at the last whistle.
“We felt there should have been about four seconds still on the clock but it ran down to 2.3 seconds,” said Keough.
“A fight broke out and there was some pushing and shoving and then the referee let the last few seconds tick off.
“Our players were upset with the officials because with four seconds left (and the faceoff outside the Highlanders’ zone), they still felt we had a chance to score the tying goal.”
Holy Heart coach Bob Perks said the altercation at the end of the game didn’t spoil his team’s championship celebration one bit.
“No, not at all,” said Perks. “Our kids really worked hard for this and we deserved it.
“They (Gonzaga) were on a bit of a high coming in and we put them back a step or two.”