June 22, 2018
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Underage drinking led to Orono High School hockey team suspensions

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — The off-ice incident that led to the two-week suspension of six Orono High School hockey players involved underage drinking, according to Orono police.

The six athletes were among seven local high school students who attended a party Friday night at one of the students’ homes near Pushaw Lake, Orono police Cpt. Josh Ewing said Wednesday.

Orono police officers went to the residence shortly before midnight Friday after receiving a report that a possible party involving people under the legal drinking age might be under way.

Two 18-year-olds — Michael Fowler of Orono and Zachary Williams of Bradley — were charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, Ewing said, citing a police report.

Ewing said Williams was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor as a precaution. Police said the teenager had passed out when they arrived but they were able to bring him back to consciousness.

Five others whose names were withheld because of their ages were charged with consumption of alcohol by a juvenile, Ewing said. They were from Orono, Bradford, Bradley and Indian Island.

Ewing said Orono police forwarded information about the incident to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, which will determine if the host of the gathering, who is a juvenile, will be charged with providing a place for minors and juveniles to consume alcohol.

Ewing said that police officers contacted the youths’ parents the night of the incident. One of the juveniles was picked up by a parent while the other four were allowed to remain at the residence.

No arrests were made but police did seize beer and a nearly empty bottle of whiskey.

The host’s father was home at the time but was asleep and was not aware that the party was happening until police knocked on his door, Ewing said. No charges are pending for the father.

Orono coach Greg Hirsch confirmed earlier this week that the six players violated the school’s code of conduct for athletes.

The student conduct code contained in the Orono High School Student Handbook, which can be seen on the RSU 26 website, defines an alcohol violation as “possession or use of any alcoholic substance, including possession with intent to sell, give, deliver or distribute.” Disciplinary actions for the violation are temporary exclusion from normal school activities or long-term expulsion.

The suspensions leave the hockey team with 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. Hirsch is going to skate two lines and three defensemen during the duration of the suspensions, Hirsch said.

The Orono High hockey team drinking incident is the latest among several that have affected Maine teenagers, some of whom required medical treatment.

“I guess this is not unheard of,” Ewing said. “I just don’t think that we hear about it as often as it occurs. We’re very pleased that someone who was aware of [the Pushaw Lake incident] made us aware of it.”

Bangor Daily News writer Larry Mahoney contributed to this report.

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