Charged Greyhounds players won't attend training camp

Greyhounds forward Andrew Fritsch (left) is one of three players charged with sexual assault over...

Greyhounds forward Andrew Fritsch (left) is one of three players charged with sexual assault over the weekend. (Mike Hensen/QMI Agency/Files)

PETER RUICCI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE, ONT. - The biggest question surrounding the Soo Greyhounds 2012-13 training camp was answered Wednesday morning, hours before on-ice workouts were to commence.

Veterans Nick Cousins, Andrew Fritsch and Mark Petaccio, all charged Saturday with sexual assault, were not in attendance.

Not only that, there's no word when the trio will return to the Ontario Hockey League team.

The alleged incident took place Friday at a central-area residence. Each player is accused of having sexual intercourse with an adult female, against her will.

In a press release, the Greyhounds announced Cousins, a Belleville native, Fritsch, who lives in Brantford, and Petaccio, of Sicklerville, N.J., have consented to enter a “confidential behavioural wellness program.”

As part of the prepared statement, the Hounds explained that public and media attention “and the stress that results from such accusations, affects all concerned. The club has decided that it is in the best interests of all three. . . with their consent” to immediately commence such a counselling program “which will help each young man prepare, mentally and emotionally, to deal with living their lives and dealing with the issues and resultant stress. . . as this court case works its way through the legal system.”

Further, the press release explains how the counselling of Cousins, Fritsch and Petaccio will be followed up by counselling of the balance of the team to deal with issues arising as a result of these accusations.

The Greyhounds stressed that none of the players are suspended and spoke of the fact “each young man is innocent until proven guilty. Our hockey program's priority is to develop responsible people first and hockey players second.”

In a Wednesday afternoon conversation, general manager Kyle Dubas said once the three players complete the counselling and "show they can operate mentally and emotionally in a way that shows they can uphold the standards of the team and their duties academically and in the community, we'll sit down as a staff with the intention they'll return."

Asked about a possible time frame, Dubas said: "It could be very short, it could take much longer. Each individual goes through the program at their own pace."

Dubas said he's been told by many in the community the three players "should get back to hockey right away."

But, he explained “our priority is people come first. We've determined this is the best approach at this time.”

Asked if the players remain within city limits, Dubas refused comment.

“What I can say, is it's been a very trying and difficult circumstance for everyone involved.”

Cousins and Fritsch were released from custody after they were charged. Petaccio, an American citizen, was released from custody following a bail hearing Monday.

All three are to appear in court on Oct. 1.

p.ruicci@sunmedia.ca


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