Jean-Guy Trudel, head coach of the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Peoria Rivermen, stood at his bench on Feb. 14 and happily watched the volcano erupt.
“There are still some guys around this league like the one we saw tonight on Fayetteville's team, and those guys take a lot of bad, really dumb penalties," Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel told the Journal Star. "A guy like that, you wait for him to just blow up, and then you stay disciplined and make them pay for it."
He was referring to Fayetteville Fire Antz defenseman Tyler Sheldrake, who lost his damn mind against Peoria and has now lost the right to play in the SPHL for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
At 10:42 of the third period, Sheldrake was assessed minor penalties for cross checking and roughing and a match penalty for attempt to injure whereby he punched a defenseless player who he had cross-checked to the ice in the face, then pulled him up off the ice in an attempt to fight the Peoria player. Furthermore, he struck a linesman several times, causing injury, then forcefully took the official to the ice in his attempt to get at the opposing players and continue the altercation.
“It is the decision of the League Office, in conjunction with the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, that Mr. Sheldrake’s actions in this game, along with his previous history, show a continued lack of respect and complete disregard for the safety of his opponents,” said SPHL President Jim Combs. “In addition, striking a game official multiple times, whether intentional or not, will not be tolerated by the SPHL. As such, Mr. Sheldrake has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.”
Sheldrake was given 28 penalty minutes in the game, and Peoria scored three times on the seven-minute power play his tomfoolery handed them. Sheldrake leads the SPHL with 259 PIMs and is one of only two players with more than 200 PIMs for the season.
The incident stemmed from Rivermen winger Dan Bremmer threw his body around and frustrating the Fire Antz. He antagonized Sheldrake to the point where the defenseman tripped Bremmer to the ice and punched him while he was down. He then punched Peoria winger Matt Summers and wrestled with a linesman in an effort to assault Bremmer again.
According to the League, it went beyond wrestling and into assaulting the linesman, causing injury.
It’s not the first time he’s had an incident with a game official this season.
Sheldrake had been penalized previously for verbal abuse of officials in December and in January and was suspended for three games for “verbal abuse of officials” back in January. The officials in that case happened to be women, causing Fayetteville Observer sports editor Thomas Pope to write a not-at-all-blatantly-misogynist column that criticized the league for the suspension:
“In this instance, I think the league called it differently because of the referees' gender. That undermines those refs' credibility with the players in future games they may work.”
Pope didn’t mention that incident in his write-up of Sheldrake’s season-long suspension, but then again he also didn’t understand how Peoria was given a seven-minute power play.
From Pope’s article, Fire Antz coach Emery Olauson said:
“I’m still trying to kind of absorb the blow from the league," Olauson said by phone Wednesday morning as the team was en route to Pensacola. "Obviously, Tyler kind of felt like his job was to protect our players in a game that had gotten pretty chippy against a player (Dan Bremner) that, in Tyler’s mind and in my mind, had a couple of pretty dangerous hits, a couple of pretty dirty kind of plays and a whole lot of antagonizing of Tyler.
"Did (Sheldrake) take it too far? Yeah, and the league obviously rules pretty heavily whenever an official is struck. I didn’t see that and I know that Tyler didn’t intend for that to happen."
Well of course he didn’t. He intended to assault another player, and the linesman was totally in the way. What else is he supposed to do? Is he not human? If striking a linesman, do his knuckles not bleed?!