Hockey Blog: Big bans are the wake-up call for teams

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Nickerson four, Hutchins four, Keefe three and now Frank five - we’re talking suspensions rather than goals, and that ought to be a wake-up call for every single coach in the league.

At last - more overdue than a library book borrowed in 1972 and subsequently misplaced - the EIHL is delivering what teams and players want. Consistency.

The bar has been set and it must remain in place until the penny finally clicks.

Check to the head, use excessive roughness or stick the heid in someone and your Saturday night options are ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘XFactor’ rather than powerplays and penalty killing. Jeez, they should put them all on the same sofa, hand them a bowl of popcorn and make them watch both shows - now that’s punishment.

All credit to supervisor Moray Hanson for the current approach.

In the space of a week or so we’ve gone from howls of outrage over a ghastly penalty shot cock-up to praise for the stripeys - and on the same ice pad.

The agenda has moved on thanks to some straight, open talking and that can only be good for the sport and the clubs.

Siege mentalities are as damaging to a dressing-room as a rampaging flu bug.

There is no doubt at all that Chris Frank was toast the moment he flipped his head back in the face of Matt Nickerson - and he knew it.

Drop the gloves. go toe to toe, throw a big hit - but don’t get stuck on the plexi and flip your head back into the face of someone behind. Lines. Crossed.

Frank now sits for five. Plenty time to stroke his chin and figure out just how he could have handled that situation better.

There was certainly plenty going on during the game - it was a chippy wee encounter with its fair share of digs, niggles, verbals and wind-ups. The first meeting of the season and a chance to set down a marker using every bit of hockey’s dark arts at your disposal.

I watched one Clan skater head to the bench for a line change. Three times he ‘brushed’ past players. Three times a stick was held just that little bit more firmly in place, three times shoulder pads bounced off each other, and he spun like a wee pinball machine en route to the bench. No eye contattc, no words, just a glorious wee cameo on a night when even the quieter players had a nip at their opposite line.

So, all credit to ref Dalgleish for his handling of the game.

I was surprised when he wouldn’t let Nickerson and a Clan player fight. The gestures had been made, the gloves were clearly going to come off but he and a lino stepped in immediately, binning the Fifer on a delay of the game penalty.

Cue howls of protests from the noisy stands, but in the dressing-room media briefing afterwards, Dutiaume explained the ref heard the Clan guy say no three times so, he wasn’t going to let it go - just as he said in his pre-game chat with the team.

I suspect like everyone else in the rink I missed that part and only saw a fight being stopped bef ore it started.

Once again the ref was right. The crowd was wrong.

And their jobs will be made easier if disciplinary consistency is maintained.

I am in no doubt there will be a few more big bans handed out before the penny finally drops.

An enforcer whose beat extends no further than the cafe on match night ain’t any use to his team-mates. They’ll either figure it out themselves or learn the hard way...

So Chris, what’s it to be - Brucie and the chac-cha-cha or Louis and the boy bands?

Happy viewing...