BOSTON -- Andrew Ference was having one of his best games of the season against the Rangers through three periods of playoff-style hockey Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately the Bruins defenseman was also at the heart of a sequence that ultimately led to the Bs downfall in overtime, and he might be headed for Bostons third suspension of the season. Ference was kicked out of the game in overtime after a dangerous play with Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that sent the New York blueliner flying head-first into the boards.
Ference was slapped with a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct after hitting McDonagh from behind while chasing the puck behind New Yorks net in the extra session. The penalty led to Marian Gaboriks overtime game-winning goal with 3.6 seconds left to give New York a 3-2 victory, but more importantly Ference appeared to injure McDonagh on the charging play.
It was doubly tough. You obviously dont want to cause somebodys injury. So the five minute penalty doesnt help the team, but you hope that you dont put a guy in a bad spot, said Ference. Its a bad thing in both ways. I was obviously going really fast. You try to let up and you try to hold updo what they teach you. But obviously it was a bad end result with him going in the boards pretty hard.
Ference said its up to the league to make the ultimate decision on whether the hit is suspension-worthy, and the defenseman has been unassailably honest and outspoken when it comes to punishing dangerous hits in the past. He even got into some hot water with his own teammates last season for calling out Daniel Paille on a head shot against the Dallas Stars that ultimately got the forward suspended.
CSNNE.com has confirmed with the league and was the first to report that Ference will have a phone hearing Sunday morning.
Both players were chasing after a puck Ference had dumped in behind the net during overtime, and the Bs defenseman simply couldnt hold up after kicking into high gear attempting to track the puck. The impact behind the New York net resulted in McDonagh crashing into the boards and lying on the ice for several minutes before he was helped to the Rangers dressing room.
Ference admitted he arrived at the collision with too much speed and the uncurbed momentum added to the ultimate shove sending McDonagh crashing into the end boards. The hit wasnt flat-out dirty and it didnt look like intent to injure, but it was clearly of the dangerous variety that the league frowns upon these days.
I was going as fast as I can to get to the puck. I realized I wasnt going to get there first and he boxed me out, said Ference, who had a goal and an assist in 17:21 of ice time in defeat. "I tried to lean back but I was going too fast. Obviously it was a dangerous position. I tried to let up, but I didnt let up fast enough.
I honestly havent seen the replays, so I dont know what it looks like on video. I felt like I was leaning back, but I obviously didnt slow up fast enough. Its really the leagues call.
Claude Julien wouldnt comment on whether he felt the hit was suspension-worthy, but instead spoke to the honest body of work Ference has built during a solid 12-year NHL career. In world where actions speak louder than words Ference has always walked the honest, clean line in the NHL.
What I do know is there was no intent to injure there. Certainly we dont like to see that; its an unfortunate thing, said Julien. It was a great game; you dont want to see a player get injured. It just made for an unfortunate ending to a great game, so thats basically all Im going to say right now.
Ference isnt a dirty player. Hes one of those guys who supports what the league is trying to do as far as minimizing those injuries. It was a player chasing the puck, and when he got hit his legs were pretty far apart. There wasnt good balance from their player and it certainly resulted in an unfortunate thing. Well let the league look at it. They dissect things in their own way, and well just wait to hear from them.
Ference was fined for the unintentional bird he flashed at the Montreal fans in the Bell Centre during last years first round of the playoffs, and had a conversation with the league about an inadvertent hit on Jeff Halpern during Game 7 of that same series against the Canadiens.
But Ference has never been suspended during his NHL career, and that along with the extent of McDonaghs injuries -- will likely come into play with any hearing or decision rendered by Shanahan and the NHL Player Safety Department.