The Nelson Leafs welcomed the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to Nelson on New Years Eve by staging a brawl at centre ice.
After a physical but scoreless first period, as the puck dropped to open the second frame, each of the Nelson players attacked the Beaver Valley counterpart in an effort to start a brawl. Even the two Nelson defencemen skated to the opposite blue line to engage the Nitehawks’ defencemen.
A line brawl to start the second period.
— KIJHLSniper (@KijhlS) January 1, 2023
The intent from the Leafs bench was obvious, as Nelson coach Adam DiBella sent out his fourth line, prolific in penalty minutes (PiMs) but slight in points, to take some of the Nitehawks top skaters out of the game.
Leafs forward Marko Pavlovic, at six-foot-seven and 215 pounds, led the attack as he took out his frustrations on B.V.’s centreman, Ethan Smyth. As a result, Pavlovic was given an instigator penalty, and the Leafs bench also assessed a 20-minute gross misconduct.
Each player involved on the Leafs side had racked up more than 50 minutes in penalties so far this season, with defenceman Ryland Minnie leading with 87 PiMs, no goals and five assists in 22 games.
The Nitehawks had just one player that came close to 50 PiMs in Gavin Tritt with 45. He joined skilled players Boris Hristov, Spencer Dixon-Reusz, Kaleb Percival, and Smyth on the ice.
Once the brawl ended, the players were all assessed a five-minute match and a game misconduct.
However, the KIJHL announced more disciplinary actions on Tuesday. According to the KIJHL’s press release, Leafs coach Adam DiBella has been suspended indefinitely pending completion of an investigation into his actions during the game in question.
“These actions have resulted in a total of 35 games in suspensions to Nelson players and eight games to Beaver Valley players,” read the release. “All suspensions outlined below were determined following a review by the BCHC Department of Player Safety.”
Nelson Leafs player Pavlovic was suspended for three games for participating in a staged fight. He will be eligible to return on Jan. 13.
Nelson players Tyler Seminoff, Leighton Partington, Hunter Sperle and Ryland Mennie have been suspended for a total of eight games each; three games for participating in a staged fight and five games for instigating multiple fights on the same stoppage.
Nitehawks players Tritt, Hristov, Dixon-Reusz and Percival received two games each for participating in multiple fights on the same stoppage and will be eligible to return on Jan. 13.
Nitehawks president Steven Piccolo could not comment as the league investigation is underway.
Nelson Leafs president Corey Viala released a statement on Thursday, saying: “The Nelson Leafs organization in no way condones what transpired during the Saturday, Dec. 31 game versus Beaver Valley.
“The Nelson Leafs organization apologizes to our fans and to all fans of the KIJHL.
“Our organization has been a leader in the development of players and coaches for many years. Our commitment remains and always will be the development of our players through hockey and education.”
Viala said that the Leafs accepted the disciplinary action assessed by the KIJHL and would not comment until the league investigation was complete.
The Leafs went on to win the game 3-1. Incredibly, there were 177 penalty minutes levied against the Nitehawks and 159 minutes to the Leafs.
Beaver Valley travels to Grand Forks to take on the Border Bruins on Friday, Jan. 6 and return to the Nest for a battle against the Summerland Steam on Saturday, Jan. 7 with the puck drop at 7 p.m.