Hockey’s Andrew Long To Stand Trial
PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) _ Hockey player Andrew Long testified Monday that he didn’t know what hit him when suddenly, he was knocked to the ice _ bloody and convulsing _ during an Ontario Hockey League playoff game last April.
The hit came from Jesse Boulerice, who grabbed his stick with both hands, like a baseball bat, and smacked Long in the head, prosecutors say. While roughness is not unusual in hockey, Boulerice is facing criminal charges for his actions.
Boulerice, 19, a former Plymouth Whalers player, was ordered Monday to stand trial on charges of assault to do great bodily harm less than murder to Long, formerly of the Guelph Storm. The felony carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Both men are prospects for professional teams _ Boulerice for the Philadelphia Flyers and Long for the Florida Panthers.
At Monday’s preliminary hearing, Wayne County assistant prosecutor Ray Maguire played a tape of the April 17 game, which showed Long collapsing to the ice after being hit.
Long, the sole witness to testify, said he was looking away when he was struck and didn’t see the hit coming.
``I couldn’t stop shaking,″ Long said. ``I was trying to get a breath. I was choking. There was blood everywhere.″
Long went into convulsions and was taken to an Ann Arbor hospital with a blood spot on his brain and a broken nose, nasal cavity and cheekbone. Twenty stitches closed the cut from his nose’s tip to his lip.
After the incident, the OHL suspended Boulerice for one year and the American Hockey League declared him ineligible until November 15.
Long, 20, filed a complaint against Boulerice with Plymouth Township Police on June 4.
Boulerice’s attorney, Jim Howarth, conceded the incident was ``very rough.″ But he argued that since it occurred during a hockey game, criminal charges shouldn’t apply.
``What people do in a hockey game is not what you do on a date,″ Howarth said after the hearing. ``It’s like boxing in that regard. Are we going to start arresting boxers?″
Long said Boulerice called him in the hospital the next day and apologized, but Maguire said Boulerice intentionally tried to harm Long. Maguire and Howarth agree that the question of intent will be a key issue in the trial.
Long testified that his protective gear covered most of his body, including a plastic visor on his helmet that extended to his nose. Maguire argued that since Boulerice hit Long in one of his few unprotected areas, there is evidence of intent.
Howarth said it’s impossible to determine what Boulerice was thinking and suggested that where Long was hit may have been an accident.
Boulerice’s arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 31 at Wayne County Circuit Court.