The Red Deer Rebels have seen the last of Saskatoon Blades enforcer Randy McNaught.
For this season, at least.
McNaught was hit with a five-game suspension by the WHL head office Tuesday for his role in a line brawl in the final minute of the host Blades’ 4-0 playoff win over the Red Deer Rebels Sunday.
The brawl, instigated by the Blades following a hit by Rebels forward Josh Cowen on Saskatoon netminder Steven Stanford, also led to three-game suspensions to Blades players Sena Acolatse, Darian Dziurzynski and Duncan Siemens and a four-game sentence to head coach Lorne Molleken.
Cowen, who drew a charging penalty and game misconduct for cruising into Stanford, was suspended for four games.
The Blades were also fined $3,500 for instigating the brawl and $500 for being involved in their second multiple-fight game of the season.
Both clubs were fined $250 for a warm-up violation prior to the game at the Credit Union Centre.
“He was driving to the net trying to score and probably had more time to stop than he realized, but he carried through and the collision happened,” said Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, in reference to Cowen’s actions and ensuing suspension.
“In those types of situations, collisions sometimes happen.
“This (suspension) is the result of that and we’ll move forward.”
As for the multiple suspensions and hefty fines assessed to the Blades, Wallin was in full agreement with the league office.
“I think it’s significant and certainly sends a message that that kind of thing won’t be tolerated,” he said. “You don’t see (line brawls) very much in the league anymore and that’s probably a good thing.” The Blades, naturally, felt their punishment was too harsh.
“I will accept full responsibility for the actions of our hockey club and for our organization,” team president Jack Brodsky told Saskatoon StarPhoenix sportswriter Cory Wolfe via cellphone from the team bus while en route to Red Deer.
“We understood that there were going to be some suspensions coming down and I’m quite willing to accept suspensions for what happened.
“But at the same time, I think the suspensions were over the top, from my perspective. And I don’t really think that the one for the Red Deer team was substantial enough.”
WHL vice-president Richard Doerksen told Wolfe that while Cowen’s actions might have provoked the incident, the Blades’ response was avoidable.
“We’re very concerned with the original act by Josh Cowen to make unnecessary contact with the goaltender,” said Doerksen. “And yet, I certainly wish that Lorne Molleken and the Saskatoon Blades would’ve given the WHL office the opportunity to deal with it as opposed to taking matters into their own hands.”