The IIHF has its second suspension in as many days. The IIHF announced that Nikita Rtishev of Russia has been suspended one game for head butting.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 30, 2019
Nikita Rtishev Suspended
The head butting incident occurred during Russia’s 3-1 loss against the United States in preliminary round action. More specifically towards the end of the second period when Team USA forward Oliver Wahlstrom and Russian forward Maxim Sorkin were mixing words. Rtishev With the two players battling, Rtishev took it upon himself to get involved in the altercation. He decided to go after Wahlstrom pushing him up against the boards. As the referee tried to separate the two players, Rtishev went back towards Wahlstrom. With the two players in a battle, Rtishev headbutted Wahlstrom causing the helmet to lift up. With both players being separated and the teams went to their respective locker rooms.
After reviewing all the facts in the case the IIHF Disciplinary Panel Rtishev’s conduct was irresponsible. Therefore the committee determined a one-game suspension was in order. Rtishev will miss the final preliminary game against Germany on Tuesday. He will be eligible to return once the knockout stage begins.
This is not the first suspension of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships. In a similar occurrence, Canada‘s Joe Veleno was suspended for one game for his head-butting. In both incidents, the IIHF will be reviewing all non-penalties after the fact. Veleno sat out Canada’s game against Germany. He will return for Canada’s final preliminary game against the Czech Republic.
With Rtishev out of the lineup, the Russians will have to adjust their lineup accordingly. The Russians are facing a must-win game against Germany. With a record of 1-0-0-2, Russia is looking to avoid relegation. In three games this tournament, Rtishev has recorded one goal. While Russia does not need Rtishev in the lineup to defeat Germany, his selfish play will cost him a game.