Knockout punch leaves Stampede fuming
Southern Stampede's captain has slammed the Canterbury Red Devils after star player Matt Schneider was knocked out by a sucker punch to the face.
Near the end of the second period in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League game played on Sunday, Canterbury player Hayden Argyle sucker punched Schneider, shortly after breaking his stick on Schneider's arm.
Captain of the Queenstown-based Stampede Bert Haines said the match was in the balance when the punch came and was a critical moment in the game Canterbury would go on to win 4-2.
"We carried most of the play for the entire game really,'' Haines said.
''We had the refs kind of steal the game from us."
Red Devils head coach Stacey Rout, a former Stampede player, said his team was also disappointed by the punch, which came when Schneider was playing to the whistle. He was attempting to score while in close proximity to the goaltender with the second intermission looming.
"Hayden took exception to that and came and gave Matt a punch to the face," Haines said.
"Hayden got kicked out of the game, but we lost our star player to injury and then they [referees] managed to give out three 10-minute misconducts to our players."
Called out were Mike McRae after he stepped into the fight and engaged in some pushing and shoving with Argyle; Braden Lee who came off the bench to ensure Schneider was OK; and Quinn Drake, who was escorting medical staff onto the ice.
"It's unbelievable," Haines said.
The incidents caused a massive swing in the game, he said.
"We started the period with two top guys in the box, one kicked out of the game [McRae] and one on the way to hospital."
Argyle was feeling "pretty bad" about the incident and would miss at least two games through suspension. It could be more after the national tribunal had considered the case this week.
Rout had since rewatched the game and said Schneider was knocked out before he hit the ice.
"That's not the type of hockey that we want to be playing," he said.
It was also clear to him that the 10-minute penalties imposed on Lee and Drake as well as two Red Devils players in the aftermath of the punch were unjustified.
"We've already communicated our displeasure to the league about the types of calls," he said.
Schneider appeared to be recovering well.
The Stampede's next two games were against the Dunedin Thunder at the Queenstown Ice Arena during the Winter Festival.
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- The Southland Times