Ricky Michel, Stillwater A.D., rips "stupid" Facebook teddy bear lynching by hockey girls

Four hockey players from Stillwater are facing a one-game suspension this week for some ill-received Facebook humor.

Before a game against White Bear Lake last week, the high school girls posted a picture of a teddy bear wearing the number 34 strung up at the neck by a noose. Under the photo read, "Another successful bear hunt."

On its face, this already might not be the best formula for a harmless prank. Lynching jokes almost never go over well.

It then really didn't look good when Crystal Lowell -- number 34 for White Bear -- suffered a season-ending injury at the game. Lowell and a Stillwater player collided on ice, and Lowell left the game with torn ligaments and meniscus in her left knee.

Ricky Michel, athletics director for Stillwater, says the injury was just an unfortunate coincidence for everyone, and not the "bear hunt" promised in the Facebook photo.

"It was a stupid prank, and it was done in poor taste," says Michel. "They shouldn't be doing that."

Both the White Bear and Stillwater coaches have reviewed the footage and determined there was no malice behind the collision that injured Lowell, says Michel.

"Absolutely not," he says.

The names of the girls involved aren't being released. Though they've served their one game on the bench, Michel wouldn't say definitively if they will play in the next game.

"That's the thought," he says. "I'm not going to speak for the coach."

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