The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has laid down the law after a gruesome incident at the end of a first-round series between the Portage Terriers and Swan Valley Stampeders.
A total of 86 games in suspensions and $4,000 in fines were handed out by MJHL commissioner Kim Davis on Wednesday when he made his ruling.
“My first reaction was that this is totally unacceptable and fortunately rare,” Davis said in a telephone interview shortly after the ruling was made public on the league’s official website. “It was total disbelief. We just can’t and won’t accept that type of behaviour from players and coaches. Unfortunately, that behaviour the player exhibited is on the far end of the spectrum of what players would do. Most of what occurs in our games is nowhere near that.
“By in large, players who are in our league or coming into are league are focusing on the elements of the game that are important for winning hockey games.”
With three seconds left in Saturday’s sixth game between the Terriers and Stampeders and the score 4-1 for the Terriers, Stampeders forward Jesse Enns delivered a reckless check-from-behind that sent Portage defenceman Tyler Harland into the boards head-first.
See the video here.
Fortunately, after being treated by medical staff, Harland left the ice on his own power.
On the play, Enns was given a boarding major and was ejected from the contest, which the Terriers won 4-1 to give them a 4-2 series victory.
The final seconds of the clock were run out, but as the teams were getting set to shake heads at centre ice, Stampeders assistant coach Dallas Anderson got into a fight with Terriers goalie coach Jim Tkachyk on the Terriers’ bench. Several punches were thrown before the two coaches could be separated.
“We cannot accept coaches, who are supposed to be the leaders, fighting,” said Davis. “I keep using the word but it’s totally unacceptable.”
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube and that helped Davis make his stern ruling.
The stiffest penalty was reserved for Enns, who received a 40-game ban.
Anderson and Tkachyk were each fined $1,500 and given 22-game suspensions, while Stampeders head coach Dwayne Kirkup received a two-game suspension and a $1,000 fine for receiving a gross misconduct and for not having proper control of his players on the bench.
Other than the incident, the first round of the MJHL playoffs — which will come to a close Wednesday night with the Dauphin Kings hosting the OCN Blizzard in Game 7 — have been well-played and hotly contested.
“It’s been great,” said Davis. “We’ve had nine of 23 games go into overtime. It’s been tight, the attendance have been good but there have been a lot of positives.”