Junior player found dead

ADAM WAZNY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Jordan Mistelbacher, a junior hockey prospect who just returned to Winnipeg to finish the season with his hometown team, was found dead Tuesday morning.

Mistelbacher celebrated his 19th birthday on Sunday. The cause of death is still under investigation.

Winnipeg police said Mistelbacher was found inside a residence Tuesday morning, not in a snow bank as originally reported. According to people close to the scene, Mistelbacher had a fair amount to drink and eventually left the residence Monday night, but details of events after that are unclear.

NOT SUSPICIOUS

"The medical examiner has advised that there doesn't appear to be suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, however, there is still toxicology that has to be done," police spokeswoman Const. Jacqueline Chaput said.

"He practised with us on Monday, but didn't show up to practice (Tuesday)," said Winnipeg Saints coach Doug Stokes, who called the family about Mistelbacher's absence late Tuesday night. "I'm still in shock."

After playing with the Saints in the 2006-07 season, Mistelbacher spent the last two winters with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League before being re-assigned back to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League on the weekend.

Prior to this season, the forward was suspended (and sent home to Winnipeg) for nearly a month by Everett after violating team rules at the end of August, but substance abuse wasn't given as the official reason for the discipline.

The Silvertips elected not to comment yesterday, but did issue a release offering support for Jordan's family. His brother Tyler played for Stokes last year and currently skates with the University of Manitoba Bisons.

Brett Gagnon, a former teammate in Everett and with the Saints, said a lot of players in town are having a hard time coming to grips with the news.

"I didn't believe it," said Gagnon, who tends goal for the Winnipeg Thrashers of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. "He was fun to be around, but he wasn't an idiot. A lot of people liked him. He had a lot of friends."

Stokes didn't think Mistelbacher, who had six points in 26 games in Everett, was in a funk regarding his demotion.

"I'm sure there was some disappointment, but he was upbeat and happy to be back in Winnipeg," Stokes said. "He wanted to help us win a championship. Those were his last words to me on Monday."

A tribute site to Mistelbacher on Facebook had 978 members as of last night.


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