Thursday night's Elite Ice Hockey League game between the Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers was a blowout. Thanks to a hat trick from Ashley Tait and five assists from Jeff League, the Steelers inched closer to the Panthers in the Erhardt Conference standings with a 9-4 win.
After Tait's first goal at 15:34 of the first period, Panthers forward Kelsey Wilson, a recent signee who replaced Anthony Stewart on their roster, took out his frustrations on Simon Ferguson by slashing him in the midsection as the Steelers were returning to their bench after the celebration:
For the slash, Wilson was give a five minute major and game misconduct. It was upgraded to a match penalty when the league disciplinary committee reviewed the incident afterward. On Friday, the EIHL suspended Wilson for three games:
Head of discipline, Simon Kirkham, said: "This is a nasty slash by Wilson and the committee has decided to apply a match penalty.
"The minimum tariff for such an offence is three matches and cannot appealed against.
Three games? The befuddlement at the lack of a lengthy suspension began as soon as Wilson stepped off the ice.
Ferguson told The Sheffield Star that he was perplexed as to why Wilson would attack him like that:
“As for the slash, I didn’t even see it coming and I am pretty banged up in the ribs right now. I know him [Wilson] from playing, [in North America] but we have never fought before. Literally, I don’t even know why he did that.
“He caught me right off guard and kind of adrenaline kicked in, I just went after him, but the pain was just too bad...
“Maybe he thought he would take me out and it would be a smart move for his team? Seen a lot in this game, but to be blindsided like that?” Asked if he would hold a grudge against Wilson he said: “Weird things happen in hockey. I am not going to sit and have a beer with him for a little while.”
The Panthers claimed that Wilson was retaliating for an alleged elbow that Ferguson delivered to of their players who was on the bench at the the time. That alleged incident was not seen by the officials, nor was it captured on any game footage. Wilson will be eligible to return to the lineup on Jan. 12. The two teams meet again Jan. 20 back in Sheffield.
Along with the win, another bright spot for the Steelers was that defenseman Mark Thomas ended up with the winning 50/50 ticket and took home £3988, about $6,500 US. Nothing like trying to focus on the game and then hearing your name announced inside the arena as the big money winner. Think his teammates weren't smiling and dreaming of which local bar Thomas'll picking up the tab at?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy