Police are investigating after an Edmonton hockey fan who cheers for the San Jose Sharks said she was punched in the face after Thursday night’s game downtown.
Paulina Wojtowicz hopes sharing her story will remind hockey fans to be more welcoming of other teams and their fans.
“Everyone just needs to sort of relax. Yeah, you want to cheer on your team but at the same time, other people can do or say or cheer for who they want.”
Edmonton police have ramped up their presence during the playoffs, in hopes of keeping violence and post-game rowdiness to a minimum. So far, police say fans have been very well behaved.
Wojtowicz, who’s been a Sharks fan for about five years, said she’s been wearing her San Jose jersey out and about during the playoff series and has never had any trouble.
“Chirping, yes, during the games but not to the point where I got threatened or someone was throwing punches at me,” she said.
“I’m from Edmonton. I want Edmonton to do well but at the end of the day, I like the Sharks and I’m going to cheer for them.”
Wojtowicz said she and a friend were waiting for a cab outside the Urban Tavern downtown when they were approached by a man and a woman.
Wojtowicz said the couple stopped and the woman commented on her teal Sharks jersey.
“Why I was wearing it, why I wasn’t representing Edmonton. She asked if I knew where I was, meaning if I knew I was in the city of Edmonton. And she’s like, ‘maybe you should get punched for that?’ And I was like, ‘No, thanks. Nobody wants to get punched for that,’” Wojtowicz recalled.
She said the woman continued to trash-talk her for wearing the jersey and the situation escalated.
“She pretended to throw a punch at me where I got my hands up. [The man] started talking to me so I turned my head a bit, put down my guard and that’s when she just decided to crank me right in the face.”
Wojtowicz said her nose started “gushing blood” on her jersey, pants and shoes. She asked the woman to leave, “but not in very nice words.”
“She didn’t leave, she kept trash-talking me from there and we kind of sort of went at it.”
Wojtowicz said she tussled with the woman quickly but neither connected on any punches. Someone from inside the pub came in outside to break it up.
The hospitality manager with Edmonton Hospitality Group, which owns Urban Tavern, said people inside the bar saw the incident and alerted staff, who then phoned police on Wojtowicz’s behalf.
Marko Slaney said the tavern’s surveillance video will be handed over to police.
Edmonton police confirmed to Global News they are investigating an assault complaint and have a suspect description.