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Wilderness assistant coach fired after video allegations

A coach for the Minnesota Wilderness was fired this week after a disturbing video was posted to YouTube.

The video showed Brendan Phelps, age 31, responding to accusations that he had driven to a park in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, to allegedly rendezvous with someone he believed to be a 16-year-old boy, after “meeting” on Grindr, an LGBTQ dating app. Instead he found at least two men — private citizens, not police — with video cameras, one who claimed he had posed as the underage boy online. The 18-minute video was posted by a group called Midwest Predator Catchers.

Wilderness general manager Dave Boitz said the organization learned about the video on Sunday, July 10. In an official statement, Boitz said the Wilderness has been in contact with the North American Hockey League, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and local authorities regarding this matter.

“Mr. Phelps’ employment by The Wilderness has ended effective immediately and he has been suspended from all participation in any USA Hockey sanctioned activity, including all activity within the jurisdiction of the NAHL,” the statement said. According to the Wilderness, “the conduct in question does not appear to have involved any NAHL player personnel or activities.”

Phelps has not been charged with any crime at this point.

The Elite Hockey Prospects website shows that Phelps had worked for the Wilderness since the 2019-20 season.

Wilderness officials said local authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport are handling the matter and the team will cooperate with their efforts in coordination with the NAHL.

Team officials encourage any player, player’s family member, or billet family member who has concerns about Phelps’ behavior to contact team representatives, so that they can be put in contact with the U.S. Center for SafeSport and/or local authorities.

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