Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm was frustrated after the officials after he was hit in the face by an errant stick during Game 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ekholm found himself on the business end of Nicolas Roy’s stick late in the third period of Sunday’s game. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, prone on the ice, attempted to move the puck up ice. With Ekholm bending forward to poke the puck away, Roy attempted a backhand to clear the zone. Instead of clearing it beyond the blue line, Roy whiffed on the puck, catching Ekholm on the face with the blade of his stick.
Ekholm was furious that there was no penalty called on the play, despite the clear injury suffered on the play.
Unfortunately for him, it was the right call.
From Rule 60.1:
A “high stick” is one which is carried above the height of the opponent’s shoulders.
Players must be in control and responsible for their stick. However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion, or accidental contact on the opposing center who is bent over during the course of a face-off.
A wild swing at a bouncing puck would not be considered a normal windup or follow through and any contact to an opponent above the height of the shoulders shall be penalized accordingly.
This was not a wild swing. Roy had the puck on his stick, then fanned on the backhand. It was a normal shooting motion, and, therefore, not a penalty.
The referees do have the option of reviewing a double-minor high-sticking penalty, provided the initial call is made on the ice. They can also consult with the linesmen. In this case, there was no penalty assessed real-time, so no opportunity to review. Even if they had taken a second look, this would not have resulted in a penalty under Rule 60.1.
The Vegas Golden Knights won the game 5-2, winning their Division Semifinal series in six games. Referees for the game were Wes McCauley (#4) and Dan O’Rourke (#9) with linesmen Shandor Alphonso (#52) and Kiel Murchison (#79).