Fife Flyers have emerged from Sunday’s post-game brawl with the heftiest of three bans – and the maximum fine.
The Elite League’s Department of Player Safety (DOPs) has hit defenceman Evan Stoflet with a six-game suspension for his part in a fight after the controversial match against Manchester Storm.
They also banned Storm’s defenceman, Linden Springer, for five games for punching a Fife player unable to defend himself, and Harrison Rupp for three.
The decisions, announced this morning, and are certain to spark huge reaction among fans.
Flyers won the game 2-1, but the major talking point surrounded an ugly post-match brawl that left a player suffering from concussion.
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Following a feisty, hard fought encounter, the players had completed their hand-shakes and were gathering for the man of the match presentations when Storm’s Dane Byers broke away from his team mates to become involved in a heated argument with Stoflet.
DOPs ruled the fight “had nothing to do with the spirit of hockey, fair play or the EIHL goal of speed and skill” and deemed it ”disrespectful to the sport.”
It said the first issue that must addressed is how the teams swap ends for the post-game presentations in Fife – an issue Byers said he was unaware of in a tweet explaining how he ended up among the Fife team after the match – despite having played in Kirkcaldy on a number of occasions
DOPs said there was “no excuse to have players change ends, cross paths and create even the slightest element of doubt to which end they are to be in at the conclusion of the handshake” and, moving forward, the EIHL will mandate a post game process that teams must follow, which will clearly set out which end belongs to which team.
The safety panel held the players – not the coaches – responsible for the brawl, and fined both Flyers and Storm the maximum £3000 each “such was the severity of the incident on the image and reputation of the EIHL and the sport.”
“The coaches, although responsible for their team, had no direct influence on the incident starting or continuing. The responsibility is being put directly on the players involved and the teams as a whole,” stated.
Flyers now face icing without Stoflet for the next six games as he sits out a major suspension. He was also left concussed in the fight.
DOPs ruled he “threw a right hand punch to an unsuspecting opposing player” and that action “accelerated the entire incident and was the direct cause of the fight that immediately followed.”
It noted he was left injured as a result of not having his helmet on, but added: “Evan Stoflet made a choice to start a fight, and he is 100 per cent responsible for participating in the incident.”
It also hit Rupp – the player he fought – with a three game ban.
Storm player Linden Springer, was banned for five games for punching a Flyers’ player while he was being restrained and unable to defend himself.
It noted: “With the Fife Flyers’ player being held from behind by a Manchester Storm player, Springer threw a left hand punch directly at the opposing player who was unable to defend himself. The reason for a five game suspension is Springer then threw a second third forceful punch directed directly at the head of the opposing player.”
Flyers have submitted three requests to DOPS for supplementary discipline against storm.