On Saturday night in Kelowna two rivals with playoff aspirations hit the ice, unfortunately, what broke out that night was more than a hockey game.
Early in the third period Kamloops Blazers’ Defenseman Montana Onyebuchi had Kelowna Rockets’ forward Conner Bruggen-Cate in his sights. Onyebuchi dropped his gloves en-route to find Bruggen-Cate in what seemed like a targeted attack and the Kelowna forward wanted nothing to do with the Kamloops player.
Kamloops d-man Montana Onyebuchi could be hearing from the league. He got a 5 minute major and a GM for a one-man fight. pic.twitter.com/lejMJT8vsl
— Brandon Rivers (@BriversWHL) February 3, 2019
Onyebuchi was ejected from the game for a one-man fight.
Something that should be noted is that the Blazer team was seen discussing something with the officials prior to the start of the third period.
On the Radio NL broadcast Kamloops Blazers play by play man Jon Keen asked his color commentator, who happened to be Blazer goaltending coach Dan DePalma, if he knew what that was about. DePalma responded with “yes” but wouldn’t elaborate.
There was all sorts of speculation after the game on what really happened to incite the rage that Onyebuchi displayed on the ice in such an important game with huge playoff implications.
On Monday, three other suspensions from the past weekend’s games were announced but not anything for the Blazer defenceman, possibly hinting there was more to this situation.
On Tuesday morning, head coach Serge Lajoie was on Radio NL to give an update on how the team has been performing and he wouldn’t comment on the Onyebuchi situation except to say the league is looking into it.
Later on Tuesday, we found out that both Kamloops’ Montana Onyebuchi and Kelowna’s Conner Bruggen-Cate had been given two-game suspensions. Onyebuchi for his one-man fight penalty, and Bruggen-Cate for his actions. http://whl.ca/discipline
A DUBNetwork source confirmed there was something said between the two players but the nature of these comments went unconfirmed.
There is precedent in the WHL for suspending players based on on-ice comments.
In 2009, Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province wrote about an offense that saw, then Kootenay Ice defenceman, James Martin handed a three-game suspension for an alleged racial comment made towards Saskatoon Blade’s player Josh Nicholls.