Line brawls are going the way of the dodo bird in hockey, not only because fighting is down, but because players don’t generally have the animosity for one another that they used to. Except in the SPHL, the Southern Professional Hockey League that is, where one line brawl has a rather interesting back story.
The Peoria Rivermen and Columbus Cottonmouths played a fairly routine first period Saturday night, until when in the second period, Columbus forward Craig Simchuk knocked Peoria goalie Kyle Rank unconscious charging the net.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Simchuk was ejected from the game with a match penalty as Rank was taken off the ice on a stretcher. According to Dave Eminian, who writes for the Peoria Star-Journal, Rank has a “significant concussion”, but is out of the hospital.
— Dave Eminian (@icetimecleve) December 20, 2015
But the fun didn’t stop there!
After the line brawl, Columbus forward Al Graves was handed a five minute major for slashing, and his coach Jerome Bechard wasn’t too pleased with the call.
While it might not be Roger Nielsen waving the white flag or Robbie Ftorek throwing a piece of the bench on the ice, it’s still an entertaining coach meltdown. He was ejected from the game after that outburst and in total, the two teams combined for 136 penalty minutes in the final two periods. And after another scrum in the third, emotions boiled over after the game when Peoria coach Jean-Guy Trudel accused Bechard of ordering Simchuk to take his goalie out.
“Bechard ordered his team to hurt Kyle Rank. He will deny it, but he was yelling from the bench (in the first period) he was gonna do it, everyone heard it,” Trudel said to the Peoria Star. “Jerome Bechard should never coach in this league again. What happened tonight was despicable, an embarrassment to the SPHL. You start yelling you are going to hurt the goaltender, and then the first shift of the second period your guy goes out and does it. No player in his right mind is going to do that unless he is ordered to do it.”
Columbus goaltender Shannon Szabados was run over in the first period and Trudel believes that sparked the second period incident. Trudel told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that Trudel’s comments “couldn’t be further from the truth” and Simchuk said that he regrets what he did.
Both coaches have been suspended pending a league review. And due to the injury, Peoria had to use their volunteer assistant coach/PA announcer as backup in their Sunday game in Huntsville.
If you were wondering, Peoria won the game 7-1.