Friday, 23 September 2016

Starting Shorthanded?

I admit that I'm a fan of CIS hockey. The Canadian university system hasn't produced a vast number of NHL stars, but it is constantly restocking the CWHL on the women's side. However, a number of former CHL players are signing up for university degrees after their junior hockey careers have ended, and the results have shown that CIS men's hockey is becoming far more competitive and far more entertaining. With that, however, comes a junior hockey mentality where fighting still happens. Tonight at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg, that mentality spilled over onto the ice when the Manitoba Bisons hosted the Regina Cougars.

In 2013, the CIS increased the penalty for fighting in Canadian Interuniversity Sports men's hockey. The rules are pretty much identical across the Canada West, Ontario, and Atlantic conferences where fighting is an automatic game misconduct and a one-game suspension. A second fight gets you a game misconduct and a two-game suspension. A third fight gets you a game misconduct and a three-game suspension. You see where this is going based on the trend, right?

The more interesting rule to me, however, is the instigator rule. If a player is given an instigator penalty, that player suffers the game misconduct and the suspension while his combatant simply serves the five-minute major penalty for fighting and the game misconduct. In other words, those that have the inkling to pick fights at the CIS level get punished more severely that those that he draws into the fight. With less goons and less idiots on the ice looking to start a scrap, the game has benefited immensely as the scoring and entertainment levels have gone up.

But there are still fights that happen as we saw tonight. Here's a tweet from who caught the second round of fights in the third period between Regina and Manitoba.

According to the boxscore from the game, it appears that the first fight kicked off the rough stuff at 13:06 of the third period when Manitoba's Jesse Paradis and Regina's Brody Luhning dropped the mitts to solve their differences. Minutes later, Manitoba's Rene Hunter delivered what appears to be a vicious cross-check that earned him a five-minute major and a game misconduct which led to the video captured above of the second donnybrook between Manitoba's Jonah Wasylak and Regina's Tyler Bell.

Looks like the CWUAA disciplinary committee will have some work to do early in the 2016-17 season.

I expect all four players who fought to be suspended for the opening game of the season for their respective teams. I also expect Canada West to investigate the cross-check by Rene Hunter and the actions of Regina's Austin Bourhis who was given a game misconduct at the 17:05 mark. I would not be surprised if all six players were given the night off on October 7 when the season opens. After all, this is preseason CWUAA hockey where fights should almost never be seen.

I am rather shocked that these events happened in a preseason CWUAA game whose result was never in doubt once the midpoint of the third period had passed. The Bisons led 7-0 at that point, and I realize and understand that there's a pride factor that the Cougars want to uphold, but it's a preseason game. Neither head coach spoke to the media following the game, but I truly believe that neither head coach would want to "send a message" to the other team when it means that players will be suspended. That's the definition of "cutting one's nose off to spite one's face".

You hope that both teams got this rambunctiousness out of their systems in this preseason game. They meet in Regina on October 21 and 22, so let's hope that the Bisons come back to Manitoba with a couple of wins and a full roster for the following week. As much as I like a good hockey fight, the action on the ice tonight seemed to be entertaining enough for those fan who attended. Instead, they got to witness what will likely be the first suspensions in the CWUAA this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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