The 2013 world ball hockey championships were held last weekend in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and featured one of the most audacious attacks by a player on any hockey surface this year.
Justin Pender, a player for the Canadian men’s team and an ECHL veteran, lost his dang mind after the Czech Republic scored an empty net goal to clinch a 5-1 win. It begins with a cross-check to a Czech forward that's taunting him; it ended with a referee on a stretcher:
Pender began throwing punches and chasing the Czech player down the ice. Czech goaltender Lukas Heczko jumped on his teammate, as did game officials, to protect him from the blows. (No idea why the Czech bench didn’t follow suit as the Canadian was going postal; maybe Don Cherry can tell us why one day.)
Canadian defenceman Justin Pender of St. John's was given a double match penalty with one second left after an incident that resulted in a game official being taken off the floor on a stretcher. The official was reportedly injured as he tried to intervene when Pender tangled with a Czech player after the winners scored an empty-net goal. Czech goaltender Lukas Heczko was also involved.
Double match penalty sounds pretty severe. It’s, like, double a normal match penalty.
Pender has played in the ECHL since 2009 with the Trenton Devils, Toledo Walleye, Bakersfield Condors and last season with the Ontario Reign. He’s cracked 100 PIM in his career twice – once in the QMJHL – and has a HockeyFights.com profile.
As you can imagine, this momentary lapse in sanity isn’t exactly good for the ‘ole professional image. So Pender took to social media to let everyone know he’s sorry. Really, really, really sorry.
“I would like to take this moment to apologize for my actions on Saturday June 8th. After the hockey game was over I let the behavior of a member on the opposing team anger me. My response to the taunting was misguided and someone was injured because of it.
“I would like to apologize to the Czech team members for my handling the situation poorly and truly hope that my actions will not be reflected in their opinion of my fellow team members. What I did is not representative of my team or how ball hockey is played in Canada.
“I would also like to send a heartfelt apology to the referee who was hurt when (I /another player) fell on him during the fight. Had I stayed calm and simply walked away this accident would have not occurred.
“Finally I would like to apologize to my team. As a member of a team hosting an international event I should have set a higher standard of sportsmanship for myself but I did not and it reflected poorly upon my team who worked so hard for this competition.
“Going forward I will make every effort to prevent this from happening again In order to develop better sportsmanship. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope it can give a sense of how truly sorry I am.”
Be nice if he apologized a 40th time in that screed. Thirty-nine seems forced.
But seriously, good on Pender for owning up to his mistakes. In the meantime, we’re totally covering the 2014 world ball hockey championships. Who knew, right?
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