The Kitchener Rangers’ 5-2 victory over the Sarnia Sting on Tuesday clinched them a spot atop the OHL’s Midwest Division. While the standings set them up for a solid playoff run, they may have to do it without gritty winger Givani Smith, who’s facing the possibility of a lengthy suspension after an altercation with an official.
“I’ll leave that to the league,” said Kitchener coach Jay McKee about a possible suspension for Smith, as reported by the Waterloo Region Record’s Josh Brown. “No abuse of an official penalty was called on the play.”
Smith shoved linesman Dustin McCrank to continue an altercation with Sarnia’s Kelton Hatcher late in the second period. McCrank, who may have stepped on a stick during the fracas, went down to the ice.
No penalty was given on the play for abuse of officials, though Smith picked up a cross-checking minor and a major penalty for fighting.
“We were mad on the initial call,” said Sarnia coach Derian Hatcher. “A 16 year old is on his knees and he gets cross checked in the face. We watched it on tape and that’s what happened. Smith throws the linesman out of the way and we get an instigator.”
The OHL rule book follows the same guidelines as the NHL when it comes to abuse of officials.
40.1 Game Misconduct – Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty.
40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II – Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.
40.4 Automatic Suspension – Category III – 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, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.
Those automatic suspensions only come into play when a game misconduct penalty for abuse of officials is called by the referees during the game. In this case, no penalty was handed out. Smith remained in the game.
Referees for the game were Dave Lewis and Jesse Wilmot. Linesmen were McCrank and Jean-Francois Menard.
Smith, a second round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2016, led the OHL in penalty minutes the past two seasons, amassing league-high totals of 139 PIM in 2016-17 and 146 PIM in 2015-16.
The Rangers have five regular season games remaining on their schedule. Expect Smith to miss them all, as well as a chunk of the postseason.