BRENTWOOD, MO (KTVI) - A Chesterfield man is accused of using his hockey stick as a dangerous weapon, during a men`s 'rec" league game in Brentwood.
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It happened at the Brentwood Ice Arena, October 14th.
The suspect, Kevin Stephens, 27, was only recently arrested and charged.
He was released after posting $50,000 bail.
St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, said it happened as referees were assessing penalties. Stephens swung his stick like a baseball bat right into the jaw of an opposing player.
McCulloch said this was not a case of 'mutual combatants' agreeing to engage in an 'on-ice' fight, a key legal distinction.
'In a contact sport there`s going to be contact, whether it`s basketball, football or hockey. There`s contact. At some point that contact can become an assault. It`s not part of the game,' McCulloch said. 'When you have a mutual combatant, you know they both want to fight each other, there`s no crime involved...this gentlemen came up from behind and took a swing, described by various people like he`s swinging a baseball bat from behind... there were some disturbances before that as you see in hockey games all the time, with people poking each other with a stick, wacking each other on the arms...this situation, we think it crossed the line...at some point it crosses that. Some are very close. This one wasn`t all that close.'
Police said players on the ice when it happened told officers it brought to mind an infamous moment in NHL history:
February 2000, Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins was convicted of assault for using his stick as a weapon -- hitting Donald Brashear of Vancouver in the side of the head.
McSorley was convicted of criminal assault and sentenced to probation. He never played in the NHL after that season. Brashear did recover and continue his career.
McCulloch did not make a direct comparison between the cases.
'In a situation like this it doesn`t make any difference if it`s a professional league or a kids` league. You just can`t take a stick and beat somebody with it,' he said.
Stephens is charged with 2nd degree assault, a class C felony. A court document says the victim has 17 permanent screws holding his jaw together.
Dave Stanley and John Ivanoski, who were watching their daughters practice in Chesterfield, both play 'rec' hockey. Though players are reluctant to see police involvement in on-ice disputes, they said rare occurrences demanded it.
Stanley said such cases are rare both here and in his native Canada.
'To say that it`s part of the game, not it`s not ... this is probably the first time it`s happened in Brentwood, but if you go to Canada, it`s happened a few times. But again, really, they`re few and far between,' Stanley said.
'When we play, we kind of all have the understanding that we all have to get up to work tomorrow,' Ivanoski said. 'I wouldn`t someone to hurt me like that where I couldn`t work. I would think that if he did, he should probably pay the consequences.'
Stephens faces a maximum of 7 years in prison if convicted. He's been banned from the Brentwood Ice Arena.
He told Fox 2 he couldn`t comment about the incident. The alleged victim isn't commenting either.