We have seen plenty of line brawls in hockey. This one is a little different as the fans decided to get involved at the end of a heated game in the United Kingdom.
In the October 28 game between Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze, tempers flared during the post game handshake. Coventry won the game 3-2, but not before altercations that resulted in the police removing fans from the game. Three players were suspended per the league and the fan who breached security has been banned from attending games for the rest of the season.
Cardiff CEO Paul Ragan issued the following team statement in regards to the situation:
“On Sunday night, one individual spectator breached a security barrier, manned by a steward, and approached a Coventry player. The player reacted, resulting in a physical altercation between the two. Having spoken to the police, we have been informed that the fan did not hit the player. No further action will be taken by either party or by the police.
“The individual involved made the decision to involve the police. At no point did any officials on behalf of the Cardiff Devils or the rink deem it necessary to involve the police, as matters were being dealt with by trained and licensed security professionals ,who are always present at every game. The barrier, which was manned by a steward, should not have been breached. However it is not a steward’s role to get involved in rare displays of confrontation. Our stewards do a great job, for which we are grateful.”
According to the match report on BBC Sport, Max Birbraer of Cardiff has been suspended eight games for cross-checking to the head and leaving the locker room to join the altercation between Coventry players and a Cardiff fan. To add to the suspension list, Devin Didiomete has been suspended for four games and Devils bench coach Neil Francis is banned for five games. The Devils cannot appeal the player suspensions handed down by the Elite Ice Hockey League but they can appeal the four-game suspension for “travesty of the game” atop of the one-game ban he was handed for his role in the brawl.
The recipient of Birbraer’s cross-check was Coventry defenseman Benn Olson. He was given a match penalty for an incident with a spectator when leaving the ice.
“Coaches have a responsibility to control their players, so I have sent strong warnings to both Gerad Adams and Paul Thompson that further incidents like this will not be tolerated,” said Simon Kirkham, the Elite League’s Head of Discipline.
The video can be viewed below.