The Western Hockey League is in the midst of dealing with a sensitive subject which involves the local police department of Moose Jaw.
Over the weekend, the Moose Jaw Warriors and the WHL made the vague announcement that four members of the Warriors have been suspended indefinitely.
“The Western Hockey League announced today that four Moose Jaw Warriors players – Connor Ungar, Max Wanner, Lynden Lakovic, and Marek Howell – have been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into possible violations of team rules and the WHL Standard of Conduct policies,” the statement read.
With zero indication as to which direction this could be headed, the WHL’s Standard of Conduct includes a variety of topics to which the four players may have found themselves in hot water: racism/sexism, sexual assault, drug/alcohol use, etc.
However, with the league confirming that Moose Jaw Police have been involved with the investigation, the attention likely shifts away from racism/sexism and drug/alcohol use, while moving the spotlight onto a possible sexual assault case.
The four players in question include 21-year-old goaltender Connor Ungar, 19-year-old defenceman Max Wanner, and 16-year-olds Lynden Lakovic and Mark Howell. Dating back to last week, all four players have been out of the Warriors’ lineup since February 8, which indicates the incident – or awareness of the incident – came into light prior to that.
The WHL’s Standard of Conduct requires all participants to report violations, and all participants must cooperate with investigations led by the WHL.
The Warriors have recalled forward Owen Berge (Northern Alberta Xtreme U18), defenceman Brady Ness (Edmonton Jr. Oilers U18 AAA) and goaltender Justen Maric (SJHL Battlefords) to serve as replacement players for the short-term.
Ungar is the highest profiled player among the crew, as his .925 save percentage is tops across the league. The former Brandon Wheat King is also third in wins (26). Wanner is the other veteran player involved, and was selected by the Edmonton Oilers as a seventh round pick back in 2021. He has eight goals and 30 points in 44 games this year.
Ungar leads the lead in saves percentage with a 0.925 mark, and is third in wins with 26. Wanner was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers.
The Warriors, with a 33-16-0-3 record, are fourth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The Pats are eighth in the conference with a 24-22-2-1 record. Bedard leads the league in scoring with 91 points.
The league is expected to make an announcement on the future of the four players once the investigation concludes. This could take considerable time, and the players’ absence will surely hurt their team’s chances at playoff success.