Santa Rosa hockey players arrested in Reno for sexual assault

Three Santa Rosa Growlers club hockey players are in jail in Washoe County, Nevada after being arrested for sexual assault.

The team was scheduled to play the Reno Ice Raiders last Friday and Saturday, but Growlers co-founder Blake Johnson said three of the players went ahead of the team on Thursday.  That's when the alleged sexual assaults happened. 

Johnson said he and the team were not aware of the incident, and the players took the ice Friday. But they were arrested before playing again Saturday.

"Finding the right words for this is nearly impossible," said Johnson in a video posted on the team's Facebook page Wednesday. "We as a team and a club do not take sexual assault or any of these charges lightly and this news is both shocking and deeply concerning for all parties involved and their families."

Josiah Nikkel, Dominic Jones and Moses Matthews are all being charged with sexual assault. 

"One of them has additional charges pertaining to documenting and sharing the incident," said Johnson. 

Matthews also faces charges for capturing an image of someone's private area and unlawful dissemination of intimate images.

The Growlers are a relatively new club team. Their first season was in 2019 and their home rink is Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa.  

"There’s several hockey teams that play here, they all look up to the Growlers, they all look up to the JC team. Any team above them, they look up to. So it’s very disappointing," said Steve Heffelfinger, a parent of a junior hockey player.

Heffelfinger, who also coaches young kids in other sports, said stories like this happen too often. 

"I can’t stand it when you watch the news or read the paper and every day it seems like another organization or another player has gotten in trouble for this, that and the other when you know there’s thousands of kids that look up to them," said Heffelfinger.

He hopes young athletes see this as a lesson that your actions have consequences. 

"You’re representing the city you come from. You’re representing your team, you need to be aware of that," said Heffelfinger.

Even though the players are on a club team and not employees of a professional team, Johnson said they still violated a code of conduct. As a result, all three of them have been permanently removed from the Growlers team. 

All three men are scheduled for court on April 6.