A female high school ice hockey goalie in Pennsylvania is returning to the ice Monday for her first game since she was the target of vulgar chants from spectators that resulted in discipline by a school and a youth sports organization.
Armstrong High School students chanted vulgarities at the Mars Area High School team’s female goalie during an Oct. 28 game between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fightin’ Planets at the Armstrong team’s Belmont Ice Arena near Kittanning, in western Pennsylvania. The chants from among a group of 50 to 60 students were captured on video posted to social media.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League on Thursday barred Armstrong students from River Hawks hockey games and placed the school’s team on probation for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, including the playoffs. Siblings of varsity players can attend only if they enter and sit with a parent or guardian, and the school must provide a faculty member or administrator at each home and away varsity game to serve as a monitor.
League Commissioner John Mucha called the students’ actions “disgusting” and “absolutely more than kids being kids.”
“The game should’ve been stopped until the behavior stopped or the fans were escorted out of the building,” Mucha said.
Meghan Duggan, Team USA Women’s Hockey Olympian, offered support to the Mars player in a tweet.
“Every time you take the ice, women and girls all over the hockey community are proud of YOU!,” she said. “You represent so much more than the hateful words that were directed toward you.”
Mars coach Steve Meyers said his goalie, who has started in all five of the team’s games this season, was in tears after the second period. She and her family have declined to comment, and The Associated Press is not naming her in an effort to maintain her privacy and shield her from further abuse.
Meyers said she is the only goalie on the roster and one of a number of girls who have played high school hockey in previous years, some as goalie.
“We have no one else. She plays varsity and JV for us,” said Meyers, in his 14th year as coach. “We’ve had plenty of girls in this league before and never heard anything like this. With all the training we’re required to do as coaches about safe sports and sportsmanship, this should not happen. For it to fail this badly, it’s really disappointing.”