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Hockey dads held in hotel brawl

Police call men at bar "obnoxious'

By Jay Tokasz
News Staff Reporter
December 05, 2009, 11:52 PM

Instead of watching their sons play in a prestigious youth hockey tournament, three Ontario men spent Saturday in Erie County Holding Center, charged with participating in an alcohol-fueled brawl at a Grand Island hotel.

Erie County sheriff's deputies responding to a 2:24 a.m. disturbance call Saturday in the lounge of the Holiday Inn Grand Island Resort Conference Center said they encountered a "bar full of belligerent, obnoxious, intoxicated Ontario men visiting the hotel while in the area for a kids hockey tournament," according to a news release.

Deputies said they were immediately attacked by a group of men and had to call U.S. Border Patrol officers and Town of Tonawanda police for backup.

Charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration were Jayson G. Stevenson, 38, Dennis H. Heinz, 39, and Rico H. Razaly, 39, all of Cobourg, Ont.

Stevenson also was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer after Deputy Jordan Grabar suffered minor injuries during the fracas and arrests.

Heinz additionally was charged with public lewdness; deputies said he had pulled his pants down at the bar.

The three men were still being held in the Holding Center on Saturday evening.

They were supposed to be visiting Western New York for the 38th annual Shootout Classic, a youth hockey tournament that draws teams from more than a dozen states and Canada.

"That's got to be one of the worst hangovers they'll ever experience," said Bob Harrington, tournament director.

The well-regarded tournament, started in 1971 by Gene Harrington as a way to foster friendlier relations between American and Canadian hockey players, was being held Friday through today sunin four ice rinks in Niagara and Erie counties.

"I feel bad for those fathers' boys, who have to accept the embarrassment," said Bob Harrington.

The men arrested had 15-year-old boys playing in the minor midget division. It was the first time a team from Cobourg, which is about 75 miles east of Toronto, on the Lake Ontario shore, was participating in the tournament, said Harrington.

"I can certainly tell you Cobourg won't be invited back," he said. "I plan on calling the Ontario Hockey Association and reporting this to them."

About 50 teams of kids in various age groups were participating in the tourney. Half of the teams are from Canada.

"This has never happened before. The Canadian people are exceptional," Harrington said.

It's unclear what caused the melee at the hotel.

Hotel security initially intervened at the bar before the Sheriff's Office was called, said Scott Zeplowitz, general manager.

The hotel did not receive complaints from other guests in the hotel regarding the early morning ruckus, he said.

Zeplowitz, who is himself a youth hockey coach, said the hotel frequently hosts families traveling to the area for hockey events usually without incident.

"We have visitors for just about every hockey tournament that comes to Buffalo," he said.