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Tuesday, 29 January 2013 16:49

Black suspended, team fined after Saturday brouhaha

Written by  Brad Brown
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For the second time in four days, The Graham Black Story went a little too far.

The Swift Current Broncos centre’s much-hyped thyroid operation Jan. 23 - first reported elsewhere as major surgery, then as the guzzling of a miracle-cure potion — turned out to be nothing more than a routine pre-op for a yet-to-be-scheduled procedure.
Saturday, Black was ejected with barely a minute to play in Swift Current’s 5-2 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors after being assessed an elbowing major for his open ice hit on Tanner Eberle.
“It was just boiling down to frustration and I maybe got a bit too aggressive,” said Black, the anchor of the Broncos’ second line. “I lined up a hit and it maybe didn’t go through the way I wanted it to. Eberle’s my friend from back home and I’ll say sorry to him … and I hope I don’t get that kind of reputation.
“I was just looking for a hit to try and get us going in the last couple minutes and kind of just took it a bit too far.”
It was just the second major and game misconduct of the mild-mannered Black’s WHL career.
Broncos defenceman Reece Scarlett made contact with referee Matt Kirk while protesting the call and was also ejected.
Eberle played the next night for Moose Jaw against Saskatoon, while Black was suspended on Monday for two games.
“We can’t afford to lose anybody,” said Broncos head coach Mark Lamb. “The way (Black) is playing right now — look at all the chances that he gets.
It’s a hard matchup when he’s out there and we’ll miss him.”
Black had his six-game point streak snapped in the loss as the Broncos’ seven-game win streak came to an end as well. The night before, the Broncos had rallied late to beat the Regina Pats 5-4 in overtime.
Eberle was at the eye of the hurricane for much of Saturday’s game.
He missed a wide-open net early in the third period, but made up for it when he scored the eventual game-winner on a penalty shot that had most of the 2,435 fans in attendance ready to riot. Broncos defenceman Brycen Martin had chased Eberle down and appeared not to have even touched Eberle, let alone interfered with his scoring chance.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs about one-ref or two-ref (systems),” said Lamb. “I really think it’s got to be two or one and just keep it that way.
As you’ve seen, it’s hard for one guy
to keep up. You saw it on the penalty shot, it probably shouldn’t have even been a penalty and they got a penalty shot and scored a goal.”
Things went from really bad to worse for referee Kirk — the WHL’s Top Official recipient in 2011, who had already missed several apparent calls on both sides, including blatant too-many-men and goaltender interference calls against the Broncos — when he called Eberle for a hard-hooking foul that inexplicably saw Scarlett whistled for embellishment as he hit the ice.
Scarlett’s ejection after the Black hit was the final straw for many fans, who hurled debris on and toward the ice.
A line brawl in the final 10 seconds capped things off and the Broncos left the ice with only 116 of the game’s
179 penalty minutes to show for it. Monday the league fined both teams $500 for the multiple-fight situation.
“We have lots of confidence right now,” said Black. “We’re not looking at that loss as anything more than a tough game and we’re going to go back out there this week and take down some of the top teams in the league.”
The Broncos (24-21-3-2) entered Wednesday’s game against Calgary tied with Medicine Hat for sixth in the Eastern Conference, one point back of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
They hit the road for games against the conference-leading Edmonton
Oil Kings tonight and Saskatoon Blades on Saturday, then enjoy almost a full week off before a three-game homestand Feb. 8-10.
“We just want to keep playing
good,” said Lamb. “We had a good streak going, did a lot of good things. We don’t want that to take a backseat to that one game at all.
“We’ve got a lot of character and
a lot of heart in our dressing room
and I think it’s just a little bump in
the road.”

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