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Marty the Marmot, Canada’s mascot of the year, attacked during WHL game (VIDEO)

Marty the Marmot spent more than 400 hours at charitable events during the last hockey season (Facebook)

At first, it might have seemed like part of an act. But the rage was real and hockey fans on Vancouver Island are not laughing after beloved mascot Marty the Marmot was attacked by a so-called fan on Saturday.

The man, who could face assault charges, went berserk after Marty pulled an inflatable chair away during a second-intermission game of musical chairs. The man reacted by picking up the mascot and body-slamming him to the hard ice before briefly dragging him by the feet of his costume. (There is a sentence I never anticipated typing.) Police are taking it seriously and fans want to see charges filed.

Marty isn't expected to miss any games, sparing us a unique WHL injury report ("M Marty the Marmot, upper body, day to day").

Victoria's CHEK News even editorializes, "Charges should be laid."

The horrified body language of the young woman in the powder-blue hockey sweater in the foreground of the shot says it all.

From Christian J. Stewart:

Marty playfully ran interference on one of the male contestants, who subsequently missed out on getting a chair and was eliminated from the contest. Once that happened, the contestant ran toward Marty and executed what can only be described as the perfect body slam tackle, lifting Marty up off the ice and slamming him back down on his back.

As the crowd and staff on the ice looked on stunned, wondering if this was part of Marty's usual antics, it soon became clear that it was not, as Marty lay on the ice for a few seconds before a staff member finally came to see if he was OK and helped him to his feet. While Marty appeared OK, from this reporter's viewpoint, he was clearly in discomfort for the remainder of the promotion and as he went off the ice after the promotion was over.

As to the mean-spirited contestant, he left the ice to a chorus of boos and was apparently dealt with by arena security. (Island Sports News)

Victoria hockey fans have a very special connection to Marty. In August, he was voted North American's favourite mascot in over competition hailing from Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL. An article written at the time attributed the unlikely win to "the voting efforts of his loyal fan base, which he has developed in the Greater Victoria community largely through his philanthropic endeavours." His presence in the city transcends the Royals. Marty was also affiliated with the now defunct Victoria Salmon Kings before team owner RG Sports Entertainment bought a major junior club in 2011 and sold its minor league franchise.

The assailant is entitled to due process only if and when this becomes a legal matter. Outside of that, judge away for his outburst, since a game of musical chairs is not cause to flip one's lid.

One would hope people don't get carried away with shaming him since two wrongs do not make a right, but you have to wonder how someone's competitive instinct got the better of him so badly. It was musical chairs, people.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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