The Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is investigating a blind side hit on Soo Thunderbirds rookie forward Camaryn Baber that took place on the opening shift of a playoff game against the Rayside-Balfour Canadians on Friday.
Police in Sudbury were called to Chelmsford Arena — where Rayside-Balfour plays its home games — after the incident.
No penalty was called on James White, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward who delivered the hit on the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Baber, who is a top prospect of the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
But Baber left the game immediately after being hit and returned home to Sault Ste. Marie with his mother. Baber suffered a concussion and is not expected to play again this season.
A 2001 birth year forward, Baber was just in his fourth game back with the Thunderbirds after being sidelined since the first week of March after receiving an earlier concussion following a check to the head from Rayside-Balfour forward Evan Krassey.
Following that incident, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Krassey received a 10-game suspension for his third check-to-the-head penalty this season.
Thunderbirds coach John Parco was clearly upset about the latest hit on Baber from a Rayside-Balfour player.
“I am mortified and just so so sad for Cam Baber, a really good kid who just wants to play hockey,” Parco told Hockey News North. “It is unfortunate that Cam has been targeted by players from the same team in what appears to be a staged incident.”
Rayside-Balfour head coach Steve Lauzon called the injury suffered by Baber “very unfortunate. I can’t comment more because the Thunderbirds have sent the play in for league review. I should add that we have two young players who were also injured in last night’s game.”
NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca told Hockey News North that the “league is reviewing the incident and a decision will be made by no later than this afternoon.”