Stratford Cullitons coach resigns in wake of player’s sex assault conviction
A shadow is cast on an ice-skating rink in this 2012 file photo. (AP)
CTV Kitchener, CTV Kitchener
Published Thursday, February 5, 2015 10:02PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 5, 2015 10:31PM EST
One day after a player with Stratford’s top hockey team was sentenced for perpetrating two sexual assaults, the coach of the team has resigned.
Stratford Cullitons president Dan Mathieson told CTV News that the team’s board of directors met Thursday night where it was announced Phil Westman voluntarily resigned as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations.
He said Westman takes full responsibility for not informing the team’s board of directors.
According to a team staff member, convicted player Mitch Vandergunst has been relased from the team.
The team says another player, Ty Bilcke, has also been released.
The team says Bilcke and Vandergunst are best friends and that Bilcke is having a difficult time dealing with the incident.
The team says it was in the best interest of both Bilcke and the Cullitons to go in different directions. As a result, Bilcke is no longer with the team.
Westman had been with the team in various roles since 2000, and was named the GOJHL coach of the year in 2013-14.
Wednesday, Mitch Vandergunst – an assistant captain on the Cullitons – was sentenced to one year in prison, followed by two years on probation, for committing two sexual assaults.
The assaults occurred in July 2013, and Vandergunst was sentenced last October – even though he continued to suit up for the Cullitons for most of the season, with his most recent appearance coming Jan. 24.
Mathieson had said the board only became aware of the convictions last week, and immediately removed him from the lineup.
The Goderich court heard that Vandergunst notified Westman upon receiving his convictions.
It was not made clear if that coach passed along the information to anybody else within the organization.