Former Fort Frances Lakers coach and long time fixture in Canadian junior hockey, Bernie Lynch, has been arrested on sexual assault and assault charges. Lynch turned himself into police in Devon, Alberta.
The charges follow a complaint from one of his former charges, a hockey player who was 17 when the alleged incident occurred. Lynch faces one count of assault and one of sexual assault stemming from claims dating back to 1988.
Lynch was also the subject of scrutiny by the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. He was fired by the Lakers following an investigation by the team and Hockey Canada following reports of inappropriate electronic communications with a player.
“Members of our organization and the Fort Frances community have been deeply distressed by these events,” notes a statement by the Fort Frances Lakers.
“The FFLHA prioritizes the safety, healthy development, and emotional and mental well-being of our players. We undertook a thorough hiring process and reviewed all available information on the qualifications and personal suitability of candidates for this position. No past misconduct was evident from any candidate during that process, including through any criminal record or vulnerable sector checks.”
Lynch is also facing allegations stemming from his 2018-2020 seasons coaching the Edson Junior A team in the Western States Hockey League. Among the concerns is an alleged inappropriate relationship with a player.
Lynch began his coaching career in Humboldt with the Broncos in 1983 where he led the team to back to back league championships. Lynch was unceremoniously let go by the Bronco’s board in March of 1988 during their playoff run.
Lynch has also had attachments to the Regina Pat Canadians AAA midget team and the Minot State University Beavers hockey organization. The 66-year-old coach will remain in the custody of the Regina Police Service as the investigation continues.