Split second decisions. Instant reactions.
For every action there is a consequence as Matt Haywood discovered on Saturday.
The Glasgow Clan forward found himself hit with a one-game ban following his outburst amid the drama of Fife Flyers’ last second goal which led to overtime and a penalty shots victory.
As the clock raced to 0.00 and the puck came back into play, Flyers found that sliver of an opening to ring the red light and send this building into meltdown on and off the ice.
Flyers’ players swarmed to the plexi in celebration.
Feet away, Clan protested.
Haywood’s uncharacteristic actions were that of a player reacting in the heat of the moment. He hurled the nets backwards off their moorings as the referee skated past, and then drilled his stick from above head height into the ice as he sought to remonstrate with the official.
Sport is all about drama – and this was pure, emotional drama.
Pressure does incredible things to people. Sportsmen thrive on, and crumble under it, Sometimes they implode.
Haywood was toast the split second he vented at the referee, and probably knew it, but so much happened within that one final play - a whistle that didn’t come, a pass from wide which hit the roof of the net, and two explosions of noise from the stands, one of outrage, one of sheer celebration - that he didn’t stop to think things through. No-one does when the red mist descends.
But, put yourself on to the ice pad in that final second of regulation time when a whistle you expected didn’t come, and, by the time you’d turned your focus back to the crease, the puck was in the net, and everything - absolutely everything - had changed.
What would you have done?
There isn’t a pro sportsman anywhere who would shrug their shoulders with an ‘’oh well’’ sigh and head to the centre circle for the face-off - and if there is, they have no place in your dressing-room. Any dressing-room, come to think of it.
DOPS’ deliberations were interesting.
Some key points underpinned their decision to impose a one-game ban.
It took into consideration that the puck “may have (but not conclusive) left the playing area’’ – but the caveat was direct: “Regardless, the game officials did not stop play, which is the determining factor.’’
Rule 101: Play to the whistle.
Watch the video from above the backs nets and you’ll see the puck fly off the netminder’s shoulder. Immediately, Carlo Finucci he waves his arm, as if to say ‘keep moving.’’
He was in no doubt. He played on. Clan’s focus wavered waiting on a whistle and, that split second was all it took for Mike Cazzola to hit the roof of the net, sending this game into OT and Haywood to the dressing-room.
He might have been the first player to ‘lose it’ this season, but he won’t be the last.
He has had his card marked by DOPS who have dangled the ‘’repeat offender’’ tag should be have any further incidents involving match officials.
They said throwing the nets off was “unacceptable and detrimental’’ to the team, the player and, interestingly ‘’to the EIHL brand.’’
That’s a phrase I don’t recall seeing in any of last year’s disciplinary decisions - it’ll be interesting to see how it acts to protect ”the brand” in the event of any flashpoints coming across their desk this season. And they will …
You can debate the rights and wrongs of those last split seconds until the next Fife-Clan headline making drama comes along – but one other point from DOPS worth noting before adding to the froth on social media.
It stated: “Haywood is responsible for his emotions and in this case was excessive in a negative manner.’’
In other words, it will separate the actions, and reactions, of a player from the incident which sparked it off.
And if you vent at an official you can expect to given the night off courtesy of the disciplinary panel.
Big games, flashpoint moments, major incidents – they’ll always spark reactions.
Haywood will take this one on the chin, knowing that he won’t be the only one on DOPS naughty step before the clocks go back.