Fury over one match ban for Sheffield Steelers ace Colton Fretter

Sheffield Steeler Colton Fretter’s one match ban for an attack on Belfast Giants’ Spiro Goulakos has caused uproar across British ice hockey.

Officials and fans many of the 11 other clubs believe a single game suspension is ludicrously low.

The EIHL’s Department of Player Safety reviewed the 5+Game Checking from Behind penalty called on Fretter and “amended” the call to a match penalty for charging.

Fretter will miss only Friday’s “dead rubber” Challenge Cup game at Braehead.

Meanwhile Goulakos’ punishment was upgraded to three games for checking from behind and kicking.

The apparent disparity has thrown a sharp focus on Simon Kirkham, the DOPS decision maker, with some calling for his head.

Colton Fretter goes for Belfast player Spiro Goulakos. Pic: Dean Woolley

Colton Fretter goes for Belfast player Spiro Goulakos. Pic: Dean Woolley

Former Manchester Storm executive Neil Russell‏ said: “I rarely comment on anything DOPS related, but Fretter being given only a one game ban, is a total and utter joke. “

Rob Plaister‏, a Coventry Blaze sponsor: “Someone surely needs sit down and review Simon Kirkham and his DOPS procedures. It can’t go on. DOPS has gone from being a controversial but reasoned method of subsequent discipline to a crap shoot by a blind folded man in a dark room.”

Former Elite League player Dougie Clarkson claimed it was evidence of an “old boys club” ruling the League.

That was re-tweeted by Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, who added they were “not advocating that Simon Kirkham should be replaced. Just not the sole arbiter of these decisions. It’s a collective requirement.”

The aftermath of the Colton Fretter incident

The aftermath of the Colton Fretter incident

Dr Victoria Silverwood, who has researched hockey violence, says: “The decisions made in relation to the Fretter incident demonstrate that DOPS is not only ineffective but is dangerous and contributing towards a culture where players do not feel protected by officials and DOPS.

“The EIHL is leaving itself open to litigation; more importantly players health is at risk.

“It is incomprehensible that the league stands by an ineffective and dangerous system of player safety.

She is calling for a “complete overhaul” of the system adding: “Concussion is at epidemic levels in UK hockey.”

The Edinburgh Capitals unofficial fans page on twitter called DOPS a “shambles.”

And Sports Performance Coach Brock Wilson called DOPS “League has improved on every level.. DOPS is only thing holding it back. Inconsistent, unprofessional.. embarrassing.”

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