The Southern Professional Hockey League has handed down suspensions stemming from an incident late in Game 3 of the league’s President’s Cup Final. Peoria Rivermen defenseman Dave Pszenyczny and assistant coach Dustin Fitzpatrick have both been suspended for the start of the 2016-17 season.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers won the game 5-4, sweeping the President’s Cup best-of-five final in three games, but it was the controversial finish that sparked Peoria’s outburst.
Peoria’s Ben Power went off at 17:23 of the third for boarding. His teammate, Benjamin Rubin, objected to the call and was given a two-minute bench minor for abuse of officials. Despite killing off the 5-on-3 late in a tied game, the Rivermen weren’t able to hold off Pensacola. Ice Flyers forward Josh Cousineau posted the game-winner with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
According to the Journal Star’s Dave Eminian, the time left on the clock at the time of the goal wasn’t known until later in the night after video replays were studied. “The four-man officiating crew did not stop to discuss the goal,” added Eminian, “but simply exited the ice, and the Rivermen were eliminated and Pensacola celebrated its dramatic Cup win.”
Pensacola celebrated while the Rivermen protested. Peoria defensemen Brandon Greenside and David Pszenyczny moved in on the officials, along with center Adam Stuart. Contact was made between the players and officials, including an apparent shove from Pszenyczny. The referees handed out abuse of officials penalties to all three.
Greenside and Pszenyczny received penalties for Physical Abuse of Officials – Category II, which states:
Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner … which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than seven (7) games.
Stuart was given the lesser charge of a Category III offense, which is defined as:
Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official … shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.
Rivermen assistant coach Dustin Fitzpatrick was also ejected after throwing a water bottle at the officials.
“There is no way that referee had any idea of whether there was a green light, red light, time left, let along know a tenth of a second remained,” a Rivermen player told the Journal Star. “Why wasn’t there a faceoff after the goal then? It was just essentially, ‘Yeah good enough, game’s over.’ “
Referees for the game were Sean Fernandez and Lucas Martin, who has also worked Game 2 in Peoria three nights earlier. Linesmen were Lucas Bisbee and Kris Delaney.
“It was an extremely emotional, confusing moment,” said Peoria head coach Jean-Guy Trudel. “A lot of that was because of things that happened [with officiating] in the series. We couldn’t get to our players to stop it, unfortunately. The league will suspend the players, and they should be. It’s deserved.”
The official update from the SPHL:
Peoria’s Dave Pszenyczny
Following a phone hearing with the League Office and the SPHL’s Executive Committee, Peoria’s Dave Pszenyczny has been suspended eight games for his actions in Playoff Game G-3, Peoria at Pensacola, played on Thursday, May 5.
At the 20:00 mark of the third period, Pszenyczny was assessed a game misconduct for Physical Abuse of Official, Category II, for using his stick to make physical contact with the game official.
Pszenyczny will miss Peoria’s first eight games of the 2016-2017 regular season.
Peoria’s Dustin Fitzpatrick
Peoria assistant coach Dustin Fitzpatrick has been suspended has been suspended three games for his actions in Playoff Game G-3, Peoria at Pensacola, played on Thursday, May 5.
At the 20:00 mark of the third period, Fitzpatrick was assessed a game misconduct for throwing a water bottle in the direction of the game official.
Fitzpatrick will miss Peoria’s first three games of the 2016-2017 regular season.
Peoria’s Brandon Greenside and Adam Stuart
Suspensions for Peoria’s Brandon Greenside and Adam Stuart will be determined once the players have expressed their intention to return to the SPHL, at which time they will also have a phone hearing with the League Office and the SPHL’s Executive Committee.