IIHF Suspends Russia’s Nikita Rtishev One Game For Head Butting

MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA - JANUARY 7, 2019: Members of the Russian men's national junior ice hockey team pose for a group photograph during a welcome ceremony at Sheremetyevo International Airport. The team has won bronze medals at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships. Denis Tyrin/TASS (Photo by Denis TyrinTASS via Getty Images)

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.

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.

Precedent Set

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.

Going Forward

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.

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Jim is a 2008 graduate of Saint Michaels College who is currently writing about the NHL for Last Word on Hockey. His work includes writing about the New Jersey Devils as well as NHL Notebooks for the Metro and Central Division. Jim has a passion for the game of hockey. As one coach put it "he is the student of the game." When Jim is not writing he can be found at the local rinks playing or being a referee. Throughout his time in the game, Jim continues to coach a local high school team. In addition, he broadcasted several New Jersey Junior Rockets games for the Eastern Hockey League. Reach him on Twitter: @JimBiringer

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