Chilliwack Chiefs forward Linden Hora has been convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, and will sit two games because of it.
The 19 year old has been suspended by the BCHL for being involved in a second fight during a stoppage in play.
It happened late in the third period of Sunday’s wild 7-2 win over the Surrey Eagles.
With less than four minutes left and the Chiefs holding a five goal lead, Chilliwack’s Colin Bernard and Surrey’s Darius Davidson dropped the mitts in the far right corner of the rink.
That was the first fight.
At the same time, a Surrey player dropped Chiefs D-man Davis Bunz to the ice in front of the Chilliwack bench with enough force to pop his lid off.
Players on the ice skated over.
Hora wrapped up Surrey’s Paul McAvoy in a bear hug and, with his gloves still on, threw him to the ice.
It’s the type of thing you’ve seen in a hundred hockey games, but the game officials decided that Hora (A) instigated the altercation and (B) ruled it a fight.
So that’s the second scrap, and according to the BCHL rulebook, “When two fights occur during the same stoppage of play, players involved in the second fight shall be subjected to an automatic suspension.”
“If there is an instigator in the second fight (Hora) – the instigating player is suspended a minimum of two games.”
Hora landed on top of McAvoy and Tatarnic said he was told by a referee that his player threw two punches at the Eagle centre’s head.
There is no evidence of that on the video.
Hora can be seen shrugging off his right glove, but there’s no punching motion. Tatarnic said he was communicating with Hora the whole time to not engage and not fight and he believes Hora listened.
Tatarnic said he never witnessed Hora throwing punches and believes the situation could have easily escalated had Hora and the other players on the ice lost their cool.
“If Linden had gotten himself into a multiple-fight situation then he would have to pay the consequences, because I support the rule,” Tatarnic said. “But in this situation, in my opinion, I didn’t see anything worthy of being penalized for a fight.”
“It’s unfortunate for Linden because there are a couple schools coming to see him this week.”
It was a feisty weekend for the Chiefs in general.
After a quiet 6-3 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters on home ice Friday, Chilliwack travelled to Langley and saw their nine game winning streak end with a 6-2 loss.
That game included three fights and a combined 74 minutes in penalties.
When the dust settled in the Surrey game, the officials handed out eight fighting majors and 88 combined penalty minutes.
“I guess our players are kind of fed up with getting slashed and cross-checked,” Tatarnic said. “I think there are quite a few liberties taken with our players and you can only take so much.”
“This is the result when you end up standing up for yourself.”
As the BCHL hits the stretch run, Tatarnic worries the standard of officiating may be slipping into postseason mode.
Coach T and former Chiefs broadcaster Dale Cory were vocal during last spring’s playoffs when the West Kelowna Warriors were permitted to mix it up after every whistle. The league responded by releasing a memo halfway through the BCHL final suggesting officials would clamp down.
Tatarnic sees a similar scene unfolding.
“Everyone knows we can play a skill game, but we can play a harder game too and maybe we’ll play a little bit harder style as we go forward here.”
“We just want to be prepared for whatever way it goes.”
The Chiefs have a light weekend ahead, with just two games. They’re in Coquitlam Friday night and host West Kelowna Sunday night at 5 p.m.