Connecticut Whale blueliner Molly Engstrom has the first suspension in NWHL history following a punch to the head of an unsuspecting player, Buffalo Beauts center Meghan Duggan. Duggan was forced to leave the game, while Engstrom was given a major penalty and game misconduct.
It’s not exactly cause for celebration, but Connecticut Whale blueliner Molly Engstrom will go down in NWHL history as the first player to receive a suspension.
During Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Engstrom and Beauts center Meghan Duggan got into an altercation behind the play. After some shoving between the two players, Duggan dropped her hands to her side, and at which point Engstrom delivered a punch to Duggan’s helmet which dropped her to the ice.
You can see the play, and the suspension video, below:
Duggan’s fall to the ice was frightening, and as the video states she required medical attention and was unable to return to the game. There doesn’t appear to be any long-term injury following the punch from Engstrom, however.
For her part in the play, Engstrom was handed a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head, as well as a game misconduct with more than half the contest remaining. Engstrom came out of retirement to join the Whale this season, and signed a one-year, $12,000 contract with Connecticut in the off-season. While a one-game ban may seem like a light punishment, it would be equivalent to a four- or five-game suspension in the NHL due to the NWHL’s 18-game schedule.
Duggan and Engstrom are former teammates, having played together at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for Team USA and for the Boston Blades during the 2012-13 CWHL season. They share a connection from their college days, too, as both were members of the University of Wisconsin Badgers, though they missed playing together by one season.
Engstrom’s suspension wasn’t the only news to come out of the league Thursday. Following an injury to New York Riveters forward Taylor Holze, the NWHL has also announced a rule change. The new rule, which if effective immediately, will require bench doors to be shut during play with the only exceptions being an injured player attempting to leave the ice or instances where the goaltender is being pulled.
(Video via NWHL)