The ECHL ruled on Sunday that Walleye forward Connor Crisp will be suspended for one game due to his actions in the first period of Toledo's playoff opener on Friday night.
Crisp will miss Sunday's contest against the Indy Fuel at the Huntington Center.
Toledo Walleye forward Connor Crisp beats down Indy Fuel defender Garrett Clarke during game 1 of the ECHL hockey playoffs.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
The ECHL also suspended Indy defenseman Garrett Clarke for his actions in the same scrum that occurred late in the first period of Game 1 of the Central Division semifinals on Friday. Clarke will also will miss Sunday's game.
Both players received penalties and were ejected from the game after the incident. Clarke was called for a major penalty for charging with a game misconduct infraction. Crisp was penalized for fighting, including a match penalty after the event occurred.
The situation began when Clarke blindsided Toledo forward Christian Hilbrich with a body check into the boards. Hilbrich, who suffered a laceration to the forehead as a result of the hit, collapsed to the ice and missed the remainder of the opening period.
In an instant response to defend his teammate, Crisp discarded his gloves and skated over to confront Clarke. Crisp jumped on Clarke and tackled him to the ice.
The incident escalated when Crisp punched an unsuspecting Clarke as he attempted to get to his feet as things appeared to be settling down. Crisp was ejected from the game, which automatically leads to an investigation into disciplinary measures by league officials.
Both players also were fined an undisclosed amount of money.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said he knows ECHL officials went over the incident with a fine-tooth comb.
“It's one game and we will deal with it. Clarke got one game, too. So it's kind of one for one,” he said.
Watson said he emphasizes to his team to play hard between the whistles.
“We have to make sure if we take penalties that they are disciplined penalties that you have to take,” Watson said. “The undisciplined ones are the ones that kill you. Those are the ones that come back and bite you.
“We're about team toughness. We're about sticking up for each other, especially this time of the year. It's one of those things, yeah, you want Connor Crisp to come in there and help out a teammate and then once it's broken up, those things do need to calm down and stop. It's important to manage our emotions the right way.”
The Walleye have been involved in similar situations that resulted in the suspensions of opposing players over the last two seasons.
Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson was suspended for 20 games as the league reprimanded him for a vicious cross-checking attack on Walleye defenseman Simon Denis in an opening-round playoff game last season at the Huntington Center. That incident occurred during Game 2 of the Central Division semifinals on April 15 when Wilson forcefully cross-checked Denis seven times across his back as the Walleye defenseman was down on the ice in a stunning outburst.
Then in a game at the Huntington Center on Feb. 10, Kansas City forward Garrett Klotz punched Walleye forward A.J. Jenks after play had stopped. Klotz then repeatedly cross-checked Jenks as he was down on the ice.
The ECHL issued an eight-game suspension to Klotz for the incident which instigated a brawl that included every player on the ice.
Both Clarke and Crisp will not be in the lineup for Game 2. Faceoff is set for 5:15 p.m. Sunday at the Huntington Center. Toledo took Game 1 with a 4-3 win in double overtime on Friday.
Clarke had 259 penalty minutes in the regular season, the most among all ECHL defensemen. Crisp, who is in his first season with the Walleye, led the team with 95 penalty minutes.
Watson said Crisp has had zero other similar incidents during his time in the ECHL.
“He's an honest guy,” Watson said. “He's a team guy that will stick up for his teammates. He provides energy. He has skill as well.”
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