Dave Shyiak, former coach of the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, has been accused of violently striking a player with a hockey stick during a 2011 practice, the Anchorage Daily News reports. A former player, Mickey Spencer, alleged in a May 1 letter that Shyiak struck another player, Nick Haddad, across the legs with a hockey stick, then told the rest of the team to keep quiet about it. Spencer spoke to the Daily News:
"He tomahawked, lumber-jacked — whatever you want to call it — him across the thigh on his (hockey) pants,'' Spencer said. "We knew this wasn't a small deal, it's kind of a big deal. I've seen a coach break a stick over a goalpost or the glass because he's pissed about something, but I've never seen one take out his anger on a player.''
Two other former Seawolf team members told the Daily News they also witnessed the incident and they corroborated the details of Spencer's account. They said they would speak only on the condition of anonymity.
Asked in 2011 by a Daily News reporter about rumors of an incident, shortly after it was alleged to have happened, Haddad denied it. On Monday, in response to a text message from the Daily News, Haddad texted back, "No comment."
Shyiak left the school in March when his contract was not renewed after eight consecutive losing seasons as head coach. His attorney doesn't deny that Shyiak hit Haddad, but says that it wasn't violent.
"He confirms he did strike Nick's knee pads with his stick,'' Fitzgerald told the Daily News. "It wasn't an assault. It was, in essence, an attempt to get Nick's attention. It wasn't designed to injure Nick. It didn't cause any injury."
After the actions of former Rutgers coach Mike Rice, if Spencer's allegations are true, then this is a big deal. It's a criminal offense. As it is, an investigator from the University of Alaska Fairbanks police department, Stephen Goetz, is looking into the incident.
In his letter that he sent to university president Patrick Gamble, the UAA Board of Regents and school chancellor Tom Chase, Spencer says Shyiak apologized to the team the next day, and asked them to keep it private. The only reason no one came forward before is because players feared telling would damage their status on the team. Spencer left the program in 2012, but says he's finally talking is because he doesn't think the environment at UAA was safe.
"I can no longer sit back and know that this went on and not inform someone about it,'' Spencer wrote to Gamble in his letter. "I hope to have children one day, and should they ever be athletes, I would hope that if something like this happened to them, someone would speak out and stand up for them.''
Photo Credit: Associated Press