Video: OHL goalie suspended for swinging stick at opponent's head

Posted Apr 30, 2014 by Natty Walker
At the professional level, unsportsmanlike conduct often sparks ridicule and contempt towards the unruly players. When the incident involves a head injury, the backlash tends to be even more intense.
The above video shows a London Knights goalie, Anthony Stolarz, deliberately swing his hockey stick at an opponent's head on March 25th. The Windsor Spitfires player, Josh Ho-Sang, immediately fell to the ice due to the impact. These Ontario Hockey League opponents had been exchanging heated moments throughout the game.
Stolarz was provoked by Ho-Sang's stick jab after Stolarz covered the puck. Since Stolarz is the goalie, this signified the end of the play. Referees noticed the post-gameplay hit and were about to call a penalty on Ho-Sang, but Stolarz intervened with a punishment of his own before the announcement could be made. Ho-Sang was skating away with his back turned when Stolarz hit him in the back of the head, making the incident even more serious. In hockey terms, Ho-Sang would be considered an unsuspecting player because he was blindsided. Usually, this sort of deliberate injury is met with harsh consequences.
During the game, Stolarz was sentenced to a mere two-minute isolation in the penalty box, which happened to be the same amount of time Ho-Sang served for his penalty. However, soon after the game Stolarz was punished to an eight game suspension. In recent weeks, Stolarz's suspension has been reduced to only six games. Ted Baker, the OHL's Vice President, stated, "He got an eight-game suspension, but we built in and stated that if it was not able to be fulfilled in its entirety, due to London’s progression in the playoffs, we would revisit it."
This incident was a blatant, intentional attack in which the stick was used as a club. Similar incidents in the OHL this season include Carter Sandlak of the Plymouth Whalers throwing his stick across the ice, inadvertently hitting an opponent. Though the assault was clearly unintentional, Sandlak suffered a four game suspension. OHL leaders assert they are cracking down on aggressive hits this season, which made Stolarz's suspension reduction unexpected. The OHL appears to be sending mixed messages on their commitment to disciplining players and promoting safety.
With the reduced suspension, Stolarz rejoined his London Knights team on the ice last week. He admitted, "I had a lapse in judgment and made a mistake that was very stupid on my part. And whatever the league handed down, I had to accept.”
Prior to the Ho-Sang incident, Stolarz was a prospect for the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. He was a second round draft pick for the team, which has a reputation for being one of the most aggressive in the NHL. Though hockey fans and journalists questioned the team's interest in Stolarz after this spontaneous act, Stolarz asserts his future at the Flyers is solid. He explained, "They just talked to me about it, about controlling your emotions and next time try to keep your cool and just try and let the situation play out and try not to overreact like I did.”