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Minnesota Hockey Coach Dies After Bar Fight Over Social Distancing Restrictions

Ryan Whisler allegedly punched Mike Ryan in the head, sending him flying down a flight of concrete stairs. Ryan then fatally struck his head against the ground.

By Daniel Egitto
Hockey Coach Dies In Bar Fight Over Social Distancing

A Minnesota hockey coach was killed Saturday after he got into a bar fight about social distancing regulations with another patron.

Mike Ryan, 48, was at a bar with friends on Saturday night following a Minnesota Wild hockey game when he went to the restroom. While there, he witnessed another man, later identified as 43-year-old Ryan Whisler, punch a hole in a plastic covering placed over a urinal for social distancing reasons then urinate through the hole while filming himself on his cellphone, according to a criminal complaint obtained by the Duluth News Tribune.  

Ryan was apparently upset by what he saw but didn’t confront Whisler until the two men were leaving the bar. While exiting, the two got into an intense verbal argument that quickly escalated into a physical confrontation.

Surveillance footage captured the two men grappling with each other at the top of a flight of concrete stairs outside the bar, according to local paper the Sun Current.

Whisler allegedly grabbed Ryan’s shirt and punched him in the face, causing a friend to get between the two men, according to the complaint. But the friend was unable to stop Whisler from allegedly punching Ryan in the head once again – this time sending him flying to the bottom of the concrete stairs.

Ryan’s head smacked against the sidewalk, and he lay still. Footage captured Whisler fleeing the scene in a vehicle, according to the Sun Current.

Police arrived on the scene around 11:30 p.m. and Ryan was rushed to a hospital. He died there from his injuries Sunday afternoon, according to a press release by the Saint Paul Police Department. His cause of death was reported as a traumatic brain injury resulting from his assault and fall, the Star Tribune reports.

Whisler turned himself in to local police on Sunday evening. He has been charged with second-degree murder, according to the Star Tribune.

Ryan left behind two teenage daughters; he was the head coach of a local high school hockey team, the News Tribune reports.

“[Ryan] will be dearly missed by his wife and daughters and the Bloomington hockey community. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin to mourn his loss,” the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars tweeted.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover funeral costs. It had raised almost $100,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Whisler is being held on $500,000 bond, KARE-11 reports. Whisler’s attorney, Ryan Garry, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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