Soo Thunderbirds will pay a heavy price for a series of off-ice transgressions that led to a full-fledged investigation by the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
The misbehaviour included alleged incidents of coaches and players drinking alcohol to excess on the team bus following at least two road trips.
The initial investigation resulted in indefinite suspensions issued to head coach Preston Mizzi and his primary assistant Jamie Henderson on April 26, just after the Thunderbirds had returned from winning the Dudley Hewitt Cup, Central Canada Jr. A championship in Thunder Bay and prior to the team departing for the Royal Bank Cup national playdowns that were held in Humboldt, Sask.
I have confirmed that the NOJHL has concluded its investigation into the alleged incidents and imposed several sanctions on the Thunderbirds including:
* Mizzi is suspended for two years effective June 6, 2012 up to and including June 6, 2014.
* Mizzi is to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie, to be completed before re-instatement.
* Mizzi must complete the Hockey Canada Coaching Program Development 2 Clinic before re-instatement.
* Henderson is suspended for one year effective June 6, 2012 up to and including June 6, 2013.
* Henderson is to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie before re-instatement.
* Henderson must complete the Hockey Canada Coaching Program Development 2 Clinic before re-instatement.
* All members of the Thunderbirds hockey operations department, including general manager Kevin Cain, will have to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie before the first scheduled game of the 2012-13 NOJHL season.
* The Thunderbird organization will be placed on probation for one year as of June 6, 2012.
* The NOJHL fines the Thunderbirds $3,000, which includes the cost of the league-ordered investigation.