WINONA, Minn. (WCCO) – Ten players were ejected from a high school hockey game in Winona Thursday night as a result of a brawl that started after a player was checked from behind.

The Owatonna and Winona boys hockey teams were playing in a Big Nine Conference match-up in Winona Thursday when the brawl happened.

In the second period, Winona’s Ryan Grant was playing the puck behind the goalie when he turned his back to an Owatonna player coming at him. That player, Matt Ritter, then checked Grant from behind into the glass.

The hit didn’t appear to be malicious or intentional, but it was similar to a hit that now has Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore Jack Jablonski paralyzed after being checked from behind in a game last week.

“You hate to have these incidents, but it shows how dangerous it is to be checked from behind,” said Kate Mannor, president of the Winona Youth Hockey Association.

After Grant was hit, he immediately got up, tackled Ritter and started throwing punches at him. A brawl ensued between the two teams, and 10 players were ejected. From the video, it’s difficult to tell who threw punches in the melee, causing officials to eject everyone involved from the game.

“He definitely thought it was a cheap shot and illegal, but he was also upset for retaliating in the fashion that he did,” said Eric Lear, who did color commentary for the game with HBC-TV in Winona.

“It was pretty stupid by that player to think he can do that. But you know, bad play, bad decision by both teams,” Grant said.

Checking from behind has come to the forefront of the hockey world following Jablonski’s paralyzing hit. There was even a moment of silence before Thursday’s game to honor Jablonski. Emotions have clearly been running high since that incident last Friday.

“Two weeks ago our guys don’t react that way, but with what happened to the skater in the cities being paralyzed I think it was just an overreaction to what the situation was,” said Winona hockey coach Fran McDevitt.

Per Minnesota State High School League rules, all 10 players involved in the brawl will be suspended for one game.

Comments (50)
  1. The Angry Walrus says:

    Was that all there was to the fight?

    It looked like a minor shoving match…calling it a brawl, and kicking out 10 players seems a bit excessive.

    1. Keep It Real says:

      Now with zero tolerance, they will also all be subject to a 5-day suspension for fighting a school event. Right?! They should be. The stupid coaches, the stupid youth hockey leadership…this happens in every game and knuckle-head semi-athletes decide to make a point through additional aggression. They should be suspended from school and shown all the consequences that school suspension includes…no dances, no after school activities, no school related events. Fair is fair.

      1. simnhockey says:

        Ok wow kinda excessive dont ya think..School dont realy eveb have dances anymore you need to get with that times

    2. Jasper P. says:

      After watching the video I wonder what sort of nancy-hockey mom raised these wussies. How was that a fight? I’ve seen more strength at a beading party! Teach these boys-girls how to fight already!

      1. Shawn K says:

        There is no place in hockey at any level, today, tomorrow or ever for fighting. Fighting is not and has never been a part of hockey and it never will be.

        1. jackactionhero says:

          False. Blatantly false.

    3. Flabber-Gahsted says:

      So again it was the adults with the bad decision. Nothing origially called on the check from behind….how bad are the refs? Then an over reaction by ejecting the players who were just pushing and shoving? This happens in every game and has never led to an ejection…usually not even a penalty. What joke of a refing crew!

      1. gear_daddy says:

        So true. The hit was not “malicious or intentional”? Really? Well, I’d certainly believe the the kid thought his hit was “legal” and not malicious. My ref call would have at least given him a boarding penalty. The first guy may have been “finishing his check” legally, but the second dude was out of line with a late hit. Intentional? Of course the hit was intentional. I’m sure he didn’t care one iota that he was hitting him from behind either. Just dishing out a little extra punishment for good measure. That stuff needs to stop.

      2. Like the call says:

        Sorry pal, but you are the joke. What makes you think that nothing was called originally? The refs had made the penalty call before the whistle was even blown! This is high school hockey – not the pros. There may have been a kid or two that shouldn’t have been thrown out, but in high school, if you are in the scrum, you’re gone. Simple call to make. Don’t blame this on the refs. The kids brought this on themselves.

    4. jackactionhero says:

      Winona is a sissy-town for Girly Boys…Lotta guys like to deepthroat the big ones down in Winona..I oughta know!

  2. Rocky says:

    they still don’t get it ! ! !

  3. Carl says:

    If you are coming around the back side of the net with the puck and a defender is lining you up to come around and prepares for a check. It happens in every game. When the puck holder decides to turn quickly towards the boards to avoid the hit 8 times out of 10 the defender will follow thru with the hit as it usually happens too fast to avoid it. The hit deserved a penalty and the hit player should have kept his cool.

    1. simnhockey says:

      right on Carl..You can not always stop in time

    2. Dawn Carey says:

      no! the hit deserved to be thrown out of the game. no checking from behind is just that. it shouldnt be tolerated ever. the hit player should be angry. he could have been the next person in the hospital paralyzed!!!! maybe if the rules were enforced with higher consequences then this would no longer happen.

      1. Know the rules says:

        Unfortunately, this is how bad rumors get started. The kid that made the first hit was already gone!! His hit carried a game misconduct. Even if noithing had happened after the original hit that kid was out of the game.

  4. Cindy says:

    A brawl is all part of the game of hockey. Taking a chance of getting really hurt is all part of the game. So all you hockey Moms and dads taking little Joey and Stevey to their little games, this is what you are getting them ready for. Might not be so violent in the pee wee league but just wait until they are in high school and end up not walking for the rest of their lives…. good plan mom An Dad!.

    1. Billy says:

      Relax Cindy,

      You can get hurt sitting on the couch at home. More kids are injured or killed by parents driving them to school rather than taking the bus than from all sports related injuries.

      1. Guy says:

        That sounds like a made-up statistic to me.

      2. HockeyMom says:

        I’m with Billy, Not only am I (and proud to say) a Hockey mom, but I played the game from age 4-16. It’s a rough game, but so is every other sport out there. What happen to Jake was a devastating blow to the whole hockey community, but does that mean everyone should just stop because its dangerous? Maybe put all our kids in a bubble??? I think if you asked Jake even now as he lays in his hospital bed, that IF he were able to ever walk again, would he lace his skates up and get back out there……..and you know what that answer would be……I would bet the answer would be YES…….There are rules in every sport for a reason, this accident happen because those rules didn’t get followed…….

      3. HockeyMom says:

        I’m with Billy, Not only am I (and proud to say) a Hockey mom, but I played the game from age 4-16. It’s a rough game, but so is every other sport out there. What happen to Jake was a devastating blow to the whole hockey community, but does that mean everyone should just stop because its dangerous? Maybe put all our kids in a bubble??? I think if you asked Jake even now as he lays in his hospital bed, that IF he were able to ever walk again, would he lace his skates up and get back out there……..and you know what that answer would be……I would bet the answer would be YES…….There are rules in every sport for a reason, this accident happen because those rules didn’t get followed…….

        1. AWOLGolfer says:

          You’d all be interested to know that cheerleaders have a much higher rate of injury than those of your typical contact sports including hockey and football. Football would come in second and these findings can be found on the internet and have been researched by some of the top trainers in the world. Cindy, I’m guessing that you would propose cheerleaders would wear full pads and helmets then? Would you have divers wear neck guards and protective padding? How about having soccer players wear football pads? When you think about the number of players that participate in the sport compared to the number of these types of injuries, the percentage is very small. What’s happened to Jabby is devastating. To legislate huge sweeping changes to the game as a result is a knee jerk reaction.

        2. Lol says:

          Wow how old are you 22? you played from 4-16 and ur a hockey mom, i didnt realize womans hockey existed in the 80’s?

          1. HockeyMom says:


            It didn’t………I had to play with the boys, Back in the Stone Age they allowed that

    2. The Angry Walrus says:

      Wow, Cindy. So I am a horrible parent soley because I want my child to play sports?

      I will agree with Billy, you need to relax.

  5. The Crux of the Biscuit says:

    If this were a basketball game on the North side there would’ve been gun play. AT least it was just a shoving match.

  6. love hockey says:

    My daughter has played hockey for 11 years all the way to varsity. Yes, this happens all the way through hockey, there is always a chance for injury. But then again, there is always a chance for injury playing any sport. This problebly would have been a back page story if that kid from Benilde hadn’t gotten hurt. The reason thse kids were ejected was that the officials were following rules that were put up by the Minnesota High School League and when you have this many guys going at it weather pushing or punching, you only have 3 officials trying to watch 12 playes and keeping track of what was happening.

  7. T.J. Emon says:

    Who else loves that Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger was playing in the background during the fight?

  8. PFJ says:

    A minor check in the back and a fight is incepted. It sounds to me like it’s just an emotional reaction over the whole Jakblonski incident, if not for that this probably never would’ve even made the news.


    Go to a WILD/pro game. More Neanderthals (“cousins” ) cheering harder for fights and hard checks than for a goal. 😦
    Change needs to start from the top.
    ~Go Jack Go~ 🙂

    1. this guy is dumb says:

      You must not have been to very many games….
      They cheer when the wild player defeats another player in a fight.
      They also cheer just as loud when there is a goal.

      Again morons. Fighting is only legal in PRO level.

    2. dumb people says:

      Again, another moron posting here.

      Only the pro level can fight.
      These HS kids 90% chance will never reach pro level, and should know better.

      Second, you haven’t been to very many Wild games to even understand.
      Sure, people cheer when a wild player defeats someone else.
      People cheer just as loud when a wild player scores.

      1. AWOLGolfer says:

        They’ve Learned Nothing, if you don’t enjoy professional hockey the way it’s played right now, DON’T GO! To call hockey players Neanderthals only goes to show how un-informed you are about the game. Your call for changes from the top is ridiculous. If that’s the case, you should review all sports including cheerleading because, as I posted earlier, there are more devastating injuries for cheerleaders than any other sport.

        1. Brett says:

          So how much money are you contributing to the fund for Jablonski?? To say that this type of injury is unavoidable is an insult.

  10. correcting says:

    I’d rather have my kid play hockey than basketball where he wouldn’t learn proper English.


    Besides that, fighting is only legal in PRO level in hockey. All minors don’t allow it, so yes, ejection.

  11. Don't understand says:

    Wow and another check from behind started the whole thing – Don’t these kids learn???

    1. jackactionhero says:

      Apparently some of them did, based on their reaction.

  12. DARREN says:

    Wheres Mad Dog Vochon when you need him?

  13. Deq says:

    Go play a real sport guys.

    1. Brett says:

      There is nothing honorable in hitting an opposing playing from behind in a totally ‘blind’ situation, I don’t care what ‘sport’ it is. There is nothing’ ‘sporting’ about it. It is an act of intimidation, probably due to a lack of SKILL(S). That’s the usual behavior of a THUG, when you can’t outPLAY the opposition, BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THEM.

  14. whatever says:

    Owatonna won the fight… there I said it!

    1. Brett says:

      You are a total IDIOT.

  15. gear_daddy says:

    I’m a hockey fan and still play as an adult. Cheap hits (like in this video) are a real problem. In fact they are much worse than fighting, as the major injuries don’t happen because of fights. The NHL is trying to wise up to all the concussions and other serious injuries due to these cheap shots and other supposed “legal” hits. It’s slow going but it’s a start.

    Add in the fact that there is a bigger disparity in the size of players and more uncontrolled youthful energy at the high school level, and you’ve got a dangerous situation. They need to clamp done on this kind of stuff ESPECIALLY at the high school level.

    It’s not just hockey though. It’s going on in many other sports too.

  16. Johnny says:

    20 years ago this was no big deal. Oh I miss those days……..

    1. Brett says:

      Well ‘Johnny’, maybe you were 6’4″, weighed 220 lbs, your parents sent you to the best hockey camps in the country, so what happens to a player whose family doesn’t have tons of money to send to schools to teach you to be a thug, and maybe, he’s not quite as big as you are, so, are you OK with driving his BRAIN through the boards over a small piece of rubber, and sentancing him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life? Are you OK with someone doing something this meaningless to yor, and turning you into a vegetable in an instant?

  17. Brett says:

    I saw the video. The FIRST hit was OK. The second was totally UNCALLED FOR. The ‘hitter’ wasn’t going for the puck, he was trying to hurt and/or intimidate the opposition, where the ‘victim’ was totally vulnerable. I don’t see the need for this kind of ‘play’ in hockey, especially at the high school level. You don’t see this in baseball, gymnastics, swimming, football (even), soccer, wrestling, chess, volleyball, did I miss anything?? The ‘boards’ don’t ‘give’ much. Getting slammed FACE FIRST into them from a blind hit is STUPID, UNNECESSARY, HURTFUL, and shows NO SKILL in the manner of PLAY, PERIOD. In football, soccer, wrestling, etc., you will see injuries, but not of THIS KIND, where the spinal cord is severed, and a kid is turned basically into a vegetable in an instant, fighting over a little piece of rubber. I’m all for spirited competition, but this is getting ridiculous, and is totally unnecessary.

    1. jackactionhero says:

      I have to ask you to please not refer to #Jabs as a vegetable. That is extremely offensive and insulting and uncalled for. Please.

  18. Brett says:

    At least, when they are ‘fighting’, they are ‘face to face’. A CHEAP, and COWARDLY HIT, from BEHIND, is NOTHING to BRAG ABOUT. Tell me, how many of you appreciate a blind, cheap, hit from behind these days??

    1. Brad says:

      Well said Brett!!! At least someone understands. It seems that for some it’s all fine and dandy as long as it’s not them who ends up suffering. This isn’t about entertainment. It’s about respect and playing the game correctly. Some people just never grow up. It’s sad.

  19. Will says:

    A typical knee-jerk over reaction by the jock strap mental giants of secondary education. They are blinded by after birth clouding their eyes.

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