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Sommer, Alt on What Barracuda Saw During Racist Hrabik/Imama Incident

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Credit: Tucson Roadrunners

WELCOME GUEST WRITER LIZZ CHILD! LIZZ COVERS THE WHL FOR THE DUBNETWORK AND AREA 51 SPORTS.

What did the San Jose Barracuda see during the Boko Imama incident on Jan. 12?

Barracuda prospect Krystof Hrabik was suspended by the AHL for reportedly imitating “a monkey’s movements towards Imama, who is Black.”

“I didn’t see anything,” said Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, “I didn’t really know what it was all about until some guys on the bench said they heard or saw something.”

It’s still not clear how everything transpired: San Jose’s Patrick Holway and Tucson’s Blake Speers kicked off the second period fracas with a fight, there was a shoving match between Dillon Hamaliuk and Imama, then Hrabik joined the fray.

Barracuda Prospect Hrabik Suspended 30 Games for Racial Gesture

“Now Hrabik comes over, now Boko Imama is pushing and shoving with Dillon Hamaliuk. Imama takes a wide turn,” Barracuda play-by-play voice Nick Nollenberger said on the broadcast. “Now, he gives a straight shove to Hrabik. Imama is one of the tougher guys in the division. Now Hamaliuk and Imama are still barking at one another.”

Tucson’s Steve Barron then went after Krystof Hrabik. Somewhere in this time, Hrabik made his racist gesture.

“I think one of their players saw it,” Sommer said.

The officials, apparently, did not see this gesture. The Barracuda actually came away with a power play because Imama was sent off for roughing.

It did, however, seem at this point that a number of Roadrunners had at least heard about Hrabik’s gesture:

“We came in between periods and looked at the tape and I didn’t see anything then. I heard there was a gesture made, but that’s as far as I got with it,” Sommer said. He added that Barracuda tape was reviewed the next morning “four or five times” but nothing was found.

ESPN reported that Krystof Hrabik’s gesture “was spotted by the Roadrunners bench and confirmed via video of the game.” Tucson may have had their own crew filming it.

From the Barracuda perspective, alternate captain Mark Alt, who was on the bench, offered: “The guys on the ice, heard some things, their team got really fired up. We’re trying to talk it through obviously when there’s a big scrum in between the benches, but nothing really came about until that next morning, nobody really knew.”

Alt, who played alongside Imama with the Ontario Reign last season, said they have not directly spoken since the Jan. 12 game.

“We spoke on the ice during the game, talked to some of his teammates after,” Alt said. “I really just wanted to get a full scope of what happened.

“I feel terrible about what happened as an organization. We feel terrible about it. It’s unfortunate, an individual act in a very tough circumstance.”

Both Sommer and Alt were adamant that they and the team do not condone Hrabik’s actions.

“Obviously, something we don’t condone in hockey. We don’t condone it in society, and it’s something we’re trying to definitely put behind us,” Alt said. “It’s just incredibly unfortunate.”

“[Hrabik’s] actions are unacceptable in the game of hockey itself and in society itself,” Sommer said. “I know there was an investigation by the American Hockey League; it wasn’t investigated by us. Whatever they put forth in their decision, I know that the organization stands behind it.”

The joint San Jose Sharks-Barracuda statement suggests that there’s a path forward for Krystof Hrabik with the organization, but San Jose Hockey Now considers that highly unlikely.

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