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Russian junior team stops playing during game to protest ref

Dmitry Chesnokov
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Sergei Syurdyaev, head coach of the Russian junior (MHL) White Tigers, wasn’t happy with the officiating in the second game his team played against Ak Bars this week.

"I had complaints about the referee after the first game,” he told Sovietsky Sport. “For example, he gave out minor penalties to a player who dropped his gloves during a fight. But at a minimum this is a minor penalty plus a 10 minute misconduct! He may should have been kicked out of the game altogether! I tried to influence him, but in reply he gave me some nonsense as the explanation.

“It's not my first day in hockey and I can say that the officiating was very weak. Even though the ref was experienced."

To make a point about the officiating, the White Tigers staged a protest during the second period of their game against Ak Bars. Trailing 6-0, the Tigers stopped playing for a 44-second span. They didn’t skate. They didn’t defend. They allowed their opponents to score four goals during that time without any desire to stop them, and the lead was then 10-0.

"It was evident our guys were tired of bad officiating, and wanted to draw attention to the fact that you cannot perform your duties like that. But how else to influence the ref?! You cannot leave the ice because of sanctions and penalties...,” said Syurdyaev to SovSport.

When asked if he told his players to stop skating, Syurdyaev said “no comment.”

But referee Anton Demura believes the order came from the bench to the White Tigers players.

“Behavior of White Tigers’ players was unexpected to me, it was the first time I saw anything like that,” Demura told SovSport. “Why didn’t I stop this circus? I didn’t see a reason to. It’s not my business. If a team wants to play like that, let them. Of course I tried to tell players to get it together. But they told me that their coach told them to stand around and do nothing.”

From SovSport, some additional questions:

Q. Are we talking about the coach?

DEMURA: “I think we’re talking about Soshnikov. I personally didn’t hear [him saying that]. But during the timeout it was he who talked to players. Sergei behaved very strangely during the entire game…”

Q. What steps did you take during the intermission?

“I reported it to the league. And I came out for the third period with the understanding that my goal was to hold the game. And that’s what I did.”

Q. Do you know that the White Tigers explain their demarche with your officiating?

“Yes. But I think their complaints are unfounded. Everything happened because players and coaches don’t know the rules well. And there were a few questionable episodes especially because of fights. Actually everything started at the end of the first period when the score was 2-0. The guests decided to change the flow of the game with fights. And the first player to start fighting was Tigers’ player Maxim Stroganov. It’s interesting that he then skated over to the Bars’ bench and apologized to the player he fought. Refereed asked him ‘Why?’ He said he was following Soshnikov’s instructions.”

A strange scene for sure from the Russian junior league.

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