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Elite League clarifies position on Marjamaki incident as Belfast Giants fans call for ban


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Cardiff Devils winger Masi Marjamaki is ejected from Sunday's game against the Belfast Giants after injuring David Goodwin (William Cherry/Presseye)

Cardiff Devils winger Masi Marjamaki is ejected from Sunday's game against the Belfast Giants after injuring David Goodwin (William Cherry/Presseye)

William Cherry/Presseye

Cardiff Devils winger Masi Marjamaki is ejected from Sunday's game against the Belfast Giants after injuring David Goodwin (William Cherry/Presseye)

The Elite League (EIHL) have clarified their position to the Belfast Telegraph following Sunday's incident between the Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils that saw Masi Marjamaki escape a ban for his hit on Giants winger David Goodwin.

Marjamaki was assessed a 5+Game penalty with 11:35 remaining in the third period of the Devils' 1-0 win at the SSE Arena for a check to the head on Goodwin, which forced the Giants winger out of the remainder of the game.

After the game, the incident was reviewed by the Elite League's Department of Player Safety (DOPS) - as is mandatory for all 5+Game penalties - however the league body determined that no supplementary discipline was necessary.

In the statement released to the Belfast Telegraph, the Elite League also confirmed that DOPS sought a second opinion on the matter from another European league, which backed up their decision not to assess Marjamaki any supplementary discipline.

"The player making the hit stayed tucked and there was no elevation or upward movement prior to the hit, which delivered significant body to body contact while the head was not targeted," began the Elite League's statement.

"It was concluded by both (leagues that assessed the incident) that a five minute major penalty and game misconduct on the play were sufficient. The injury report submitted by the Belfast Giants was also consistent with there being significant body to body contact, and with the force of the hit coming through the body rather than the head."

The Belfast Telegraph can confirm that Goodwin did not sustain a concussion from the hit and is instead dealing with an upper body injury, per the medical report submitted to the Elite League by the Giants.

However, the team are now forced to cope without Goodwin for a period of time that is being described as "multiple weeks" with the injury, a significant blow to their title hopes given the American's prolific scoring in recent weeks (nine goals and 20 points in 25 games).

Meanwhile, Marjamaki will be free to play again for the Devils when they resume their campaign against the Coventry Blaze at the Viola Arena on February 15.

This is not the first time that Marjamaki has been involved in an incident that resulted in a 5+Game penalty, and it's not even the first time against the Giants this season, either, with the Finnish winger given the same punishment for a slew-foot on defenceman Kevin Raine back in November, which led to an additional two-game ban.

It is worth pointing out that DOPS has improved considerably since the now infamous Spiro Goulakos/Colton Fretter incident from October 2017, which sparked a radical reform of the entire structure under director of player safety Lyle Seitz after its heavily criticised handing out of punishments.

Indeed, the EIHL's Situation Room was widely praised for its quick response and crystal clear clarification to Cardiff's controversial game-winning goal in Sunday's game, which Giants netminder Shane Owen felt should have been washed out for goaltender interference.

However, Sunday's incident has caused no shortage of displeasure amongst the Belfast fanbase, and it led to some of the league's most recognisable names giving their opinion on the matter, Sheffield Steelers winger Michael Davies claiming on Twitter that the hit carried out by Marjamaki is "literally the type of video we get shown as to what head shots are".

It must be noted that Davies has had a had run-in with DOPS this season already, suspended for two separate incidents in his first season in the EIHL.

The Giants are currently on a week-long break while Great Britain are in Olympic qualifying action in Nottingham, with the defending EIHL champions back in action at the SSE Arena on February 15 against the Manchester Storm.

Belfast Telegraph