The SPHL championship aspirations of the Louisiana IceGators have come to an end, after the league has announced the expanded suspension of IceGators enforcer Tyler Barr for the entirety of the 2015-16 season.
“After further review, and in an effort to make the SPHL the premier Single-A professional hockey league, we have decided to expand the suspension of Louisiana IceGators forward Tyler Barr to be enforced retroactively to the beginning of the 2015-16 regular season,” said SPHL Commisioner Jim Combs in today’s press release.
Barr was originally suspended for the remainder of the 2015-16 season after a bizarre face-spearing incident involving Barr and Peoria Rivermen forward Alec Hagaman during the second period of the IceGators’ game in Peoria on March 14th.
Combs added, “Since the IceGators were playing with an ineligible player, the league has made the difficult decision to vacate the victories of all games in which Barr has appeared in.”
The vacated IceGators victories drastically changed the postseason aspirations of the rest of the SPHL. With an adjusted record of 11-37-4, the IceGators now sit 18 points behind the 8th place Columbus Cottonmouths for the final playoff spot in the President’s Cup Playoffs with four games remaining. Louisiana coach Drew Omicioli remains optimistic of his team’s postseason chances, saying, “I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. Tyler Barr is a phenomenal player, and we’re going to keep on working to bring a championship to Lafayette.”
Across the league, reaction to the SPHL’s ruling was mixed. Peoria coach Jean-Guy Trudel said “I finally feel that justice has been served for Alec (Hagaman). Hagaman’s an absolute angel out there on the ice. I don’t see how the officiating in this league can justify the 141 penalty minutes they gave this poor kid.”
Trudel continued as he wolfed down a pack of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, “I feel sorry for Barr, in a way. He never had the chance to learn hockey the right way… the Peoria way. Look what I did for (former IceGators) Adam Stuart, Chris Wilson, and Benji Rubin. I saved them from the bad habits they picked up in Louisiana and made perfect little hockey players out of them.”
Jerome Bechard, the long-time coach of the Columbus Cottonmouths, said upon learning of his team’s sudden improvement in the SPHL standings, “I think the league went a bit too far this time, but (Laughing) it looks like we’re getting the Rivermen in the playoffs again.” In a reference to his team’s multiple run-ins with Peoria goaltender Kyle Rank, Bechard mentioned, “I hope Rank has his big-boy panties on, because we’re going to bring the battle right through his crease – again.”
IceGators general manager Lou Dumont was also contacted, saying, “I had this two assist game when I was with Augusta back in 2001. That was a real beauty.” Dumont went on to play highlight reels for the next two hours.