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ECHL needs to protect officials

Especially, it seems, when it comes to Gwinnett

In the ECHL rule book, there are segments intended to protect the officials, even if those officials are attempting to break up a fight.

Under rule 40.1, there is supposed to be a game misconduct and/or disciplinary action against a player who "applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation."

There are stricter penalties under ensuing rules subsets, if they are deemed warranted.

But in a more general sense, I've just witnessed a few instances in which the officials were handled by the players, with no discipline from the league.

Look at the 2:38 mark of this video clip -- click here -- from the Gladiators' 3-1 victory over the Komets on Friday night. Granted, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock instigated the fight with Tyler Murovich. And Schrock got a mandatory one-game suspension for the instigator in the last five minutes. But Murovich tossed the referee to the ice. Murovich got a major for fighting and a misconduct for continuing altercation. Unless they are saying that's for what he did to the ref?

Now, look at the 3:18 mark of this video -- click here -- which is from the Oct. 26 meeting between Fort Wayne and Gwinnett. The linesman is breaking up the fight and Murovich takes the opportunity to start swinging away at Brent Henley. Dangerous situation for the official.

Same game, different video, look at the 35-second mark: click here.

Now, the officials need to lay down the law more with these guys during the game, too, but the league should have better oversight.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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