Students excluded from games after singing the female goalkeeper

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KITTANNING, Pennsylvania (AP) – A Pennsylvania high school ice hockey goalkeeper returns for her first school game on Ice Monday after being the target of vulgar chants from onlookers leading to disciplinary action by a school and youth sports organization.

Armstrong High School students sang vulgarities to the female goalie of the Mars Area High School team during an October 28 game between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fightin ‘Planets at the Armstrong team’s Belmont Ice Arena near Kittanning im West of Pennsylvania. The chants of a group of 50 to 60 students were captured on videos posted on social media.


The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League banned Armstrong students from River Hawks hockey games Thursday and suspended the school’s team for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, including the playoffs. Siblings of varsity players can only enter if they step in and sit with a parent or guardian, and the school must provide a faculty member or administrator to monitor every home and away game.

League commissioner John Mucha called the students’ actions “gross” and “absolutely more than kids who are kids”.

“The game should have stopped until the behavior stopped or the fans were escorted out of the building,” said Mucha.

Team USA Olympic Hockey Champion Meghan Duggan offered the Mars player her support in a tweet.

“Every time you take the ice cream, women and girls in the entire hockey community are proud of YOU!” She said.

Mars coach Steve Meyers said his goalkeeper, who had started in all five of the team’s games this season, burst into tears after the second period. She and her family declined to comment, and The Associated Press did not name her in order to protect her privacy and to protect her from further abuse.

Meyers said she was the only goalkeeper on the roster and one of several girls who have played high school hockey in the past few years, some as a goalkeeper.

“We have no one else. She plays Uni and JV for us, ”said Meyers in his 14th year as a coach. “We’ve had a lot of girls in this league and we’ve never heard of anything like it. With all the training that we as coaches have to do about safe sport and athleticism, this shouldn’t happen. It is really disappointing that it fails so badly. “

Armstrong’s principal, Kirk Lorigan, said school officials were “appalled and embarrassed” and he was “disgusted” that parents and security guards did nothing to stop the chants. He apologized to the player, the team and the Mars community, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Lorigan said the officers are still investigating but that “proper school discipline has been applied”. Discipline was only imposed on the students.

However, Armstrong County’s commissioners extended the ban on students in grades nine through twelve from attending hockey games at the Belmont Complex to grades seven and eight. In addition, school administrations have requested that the Armstrong Ice Hockey Association employ two security guards for all future games.

Western Pennsylvania high school hockey is not a school sponsored sport; it is a club sport played by parents and sponsors at each school.

The Mars Hockey Club board of directors issued a statement on Saturday thanking them for support, but said directors wanted to “honor and protect our goalkeeper’s privacy.” our student athletes can continue to do what they love: play hockey. “

“The October 28 incident was clearly unacceptable and the entire hockey community must take steps to ensure that similar behavior never happens again,” the Mars Club statement said. “We hope this incident has attracted attention.” Will shed light on the problems our female athletes face that should not be tolerated and that this attention will help reduce this type of behavior from our sport to eliminate. “

Armstrong, a Kittanning high school, is 3-0 this season, defeating Mars 7-4 in the game on October 28th. Mars is 0-5.

On Saturday, the Mars goalkeeper went on the ice again to the cheers of the fans of her travel team, the Arctic Foxes, in a game in the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League. Her next high school game is scheduled for Monday evening at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

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Corrected this story to show that the Mars Area High School team name is the Fightin ‘Planets, not the Fighting Planets.


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