Playoff emotions running wild
By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix
March 29, 2012
Tensions are running a little higher than usual so far in the WHL playoffs. It's showing in the amount of suspensions - and bizarre ones at that.
Entering action Wednesday night, eight players have been suspended for a grand total of 11 games, stemming from incidents ranging to clipping to uttering a derogatory comment towards an opponent's bench.
Throw in $500 fines levied to Regina and Everett - one for an unsustained request for supplemental discipline and the other for violating the WHL's social media policy - and teams appear to be doing whatever they can to gain an edge on the ice.
The 10 disciplinary actions through the halfway point of the first round are already two-thirds of the way to the 15 that were handed out for the entire post-season a year ago.
And while the first round two years ago saw that infamous brawl between the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels result in five players, and Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken, having to sit out for 22 games - plus $4,500 worth of fines - there were only two more suspensions handed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
This year, however, the supplemental discipline has been swift and has come mostly from unexpected places.
The first player to receive a suspension was Blades defenceman Darren Dietz, who was given a one-game ban for slashing Medicine Hat's Emerson Etem in the chest near the end of Game 1.
Dietz is certainly a tough customer, racking up 118 penalty minutes this season and 184 during his two full seasons in the league. However, despite the amount of time spent in the sin bin, he'd never been suspended before his lapse in judgment.
The same can't be said for Cody Beach.
The Moose Jaw Warriors winger has been suspended three different times during the regular season, which forced him to miss 10 games.
A known agitator, Beach told the Moose Jaw TimesHerald that he relished his role getting under the skin of his Regina Pats opponents.
Well, he took it too far at the end of an 8-1 Warriors' blow out in Game 2 and said something a little off colour. Although the league hasn't disclosed what was said, Beach was told he wouldn't be permitted to play in Game 3 - a 5-3 Moose Jaw win.
But the most bizarre disciplinary action has to come from the Everett-Tri-City series.
Although two Everett players, winger Ryan Harrison and centre Manraj Hayer, were suspended one and three games respectively for separate on-ice incidents in Game 2 of the series, it was an off-ice moment that arguably caused a bigger stir.
Winger Cody Fowlie was ejected from Game 2 after receiving a major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, but was not suspended.
However, according to the Everett Herald, the team was given a $500 fine after Fowlie made some disparaging remarks about the officiating on his Twitter page. The remarks have since been removed.
Yeah, tensions are running high to be sure. With more than three rounds still to go, it'll be interesting to see what happens next.
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