The Western States Hockey League has issued the following release in response to Sunday's incident in the El Paso Rhinos' home game against the Dallas Snipers.
The scrum starts with a chest high cross check by a El Paso player to a Dallas player who then throws two-three punches to the face of the El Paso player. The El Paso Player was without a helmet at the time of the punches. From there all ten players on the ice bunch up and #13 Dallas is one of the later players to join the pile. As he enters the pile he reaches over the back of a El Paso player to pull the El Paso player away from the scrum, unfortunately a late arriving El Paso player #23 grabs #13 in similar fashion by reaching over #13 back to pull him away.
Once he pulled him away, #23 then had #13 in a head lock and tried to throw him to the ice, but it took two attempts to do so. By the second attempt, the scrum had moved close to the dasher boards, and #13 was likely thrown onto the dasher board head first and went down to the ice.
At that point the scrum broke up. Dallas player #13 was on the down on the ice for 1.5 minutes, and then proceed to the locker room. It should be noted that Dallas player #13 returned to the game in the 3rd period as indicated by Dallas Head Coach Aaron Davis.
The game film was reviewed by the Disciplinary Committee, in addition to two WSHL Referee in Chiefs, along with interviews with Dallas Head Coach Aaron Davis, El Paso Head Coach Cory Herman. At no time on the film is #13 seen being choked by any El Paso player. The injury which fortunately was minor since #13 returned to the game as indicated by Dallas Head Coach.
In review of the scrum all 10 on ice members of the team were involved including #13 Dallas and #23 El Paso.
Minor penalties could have been handed out to all players on the ice including #13 who skated into the scurm late with the intent of joining the scrum. However #23 El Paso use poor judgement in grabbing #13 and trying to throw him to the ice. As mentioned, the first attempt did not succeed, and a second attempt was initiated with more force and vigorous attempt to put the player down. There was plenty of time for #23 to resist a second attempt as things were starting to calm.
Due to the second attempt, which was significantly more serious given the very close proximity to the dasher boards, #23 was issued after review by the Disciplinary Committee a "Match Penalty". The Supplemental review has been issued as a four game suspension.
In addition the El Paso Rhino's have increased that suspension by three more games, bringing the total to seven games suspension for El Paso #27. Again it should be noted that Dallas #13 fortunately was able to return to play in the game. In the opinion of the Committee, there was never any choking of the player or interference from the players on the bench to #13's safe being.