Player suspensions that led to a season-ending tournament loss for a Minnesota girls hockey team appear to be tied to a vandalism complaint filed to a local police department.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, at least five players from Stillwater (Oak Park Heights, Minn.) were suspended before the team’s 7-2 loss to Roseville in a section quarterfinal, about a week after a Stillwater resident reported her car had been vandalized in her driveway.
Per the report, on the morning of Feb. 5 police responded to a complaint of a car covered in Post-It notes, rubber bands, underwear, birdseed and food ranging from hot dogs to maple syrup. Additionally, two dead goldfish were near the house’s front door.
The incident was classified as malicious mischief by police. According to the report, a Walmart in Oak Park Heights was checking in-store purchases and video surveillance possibly related to the incident. Walmart manager Nick Wallrich told police he believes several girls bought and/or stole items from his store the night of Feb. 4, saying he was aware one of the items was a container of birdseed.
An Oak Park Heights police spokesman told the Pioneer Press Monday that his department never received a report of theft and isn’t pursuing anything related to the Stillwater incident.
The vandalized car, a 2004 Ford Escape, was primarily driven by the complainant’s 17-year-old daughter. On Feb. 8, she called police to inform them that she had the names of eight juvenile girls “to pass along … as they had confessed and apologized for doing the vandalism.” She told police the girls appeared to be members of the Stillwater hockey team.
The names were omitted from the public report released by police to the Pioneer Press.
The incident and suspensions come after a tumultuous offseason for the program, as longtime coach Tony Scheid resigned last spring following what he told the Pioneer Press were “unrelenting” and “vicious” verbal attacks on his family from several parents.
When reached by phone by the Pioneer Press, current Stillwater coach Lee Gillespie deferred to athletic director Ricky Michel. Michel and a district spokeswoman declined comment.