Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was ejected less than two minutes into Game 3 of the Western Conference Final for a cross-check to the head of Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone.

Vegas led 1-0 on an early goal from Jonathan Marchessault when the two captains came together along the boards. Benn chipped the puck up ice before colliding into Stone. With the Golden Knights center on the ice, Benn delivered a downward cross-check, catching Stone in the jaw.

Referee Steve Kozari’s arm shot up on the penalty.  The officials huddled to discuss the play, assessing a major penalty on the play. Kozari and ref Chris Lee reviewed the play, confirming the call on the ice. 


The Stars captain was issued a major penalty for cross-checking. Stone was not injured on the play. 

Vegas scored once on the ensuing power play to go up 2-0. 

The NHL rulebook covers cross-checking in Rule 59:

Cross-checking [is defined as] the action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent.

A minor penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player
who “cross checks” an opponent.

A major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player
who “cross checks” an opponent. When a major penalty is assessed for cross-checking, an automatic game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on the offending player.

The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.


It’s hard to argue that this wasn’t an intent to injure, when Benn cross-checked a player in the head who was lying prone on the ice.  The in-game impact, though, would’ve been the same:  a five-minute power play, and an ejection for Benn.

The issue shifts now to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, to assess whether the cross-check rises to the level of supplemental discipline. DOPS has previously stated that they do not consider the on-ice call by the officials in determining the lengthy of the suspension, assuming they find Benn’s stickwork to be a suspendable offense.

The Dallas Stars’ captain missed the majority of Game 3.  It’ll be up to Player Safety whether he’s in the lineup for Game 4.



Benn’s ejection was the earliest game misconduct handed out in over forty years.  You’d have to go all the way back to 1982 when the New York Rangers’ Ron Duguay and Bob Hoffmeyer of the Philadelphia Flyers were both tossed 1:44 into the game to find an earlier playoff ejection.

Referees for the game were Steve Kozari (#40) and Chris Lee (#28), with linesmen Brad Kovachik (#71) and Bevan Mills (#53).