The New Year’s Eve classic ended in a 3-1 victory by the US over Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championships. An aggressive American pressuring system at times overwhelmed the Canadians all over the ice, even when they were on the powerplay.

Canadian Defenceman Philippe Meyers will miss some time at the World Junior tournament after suffering a head injury. American forward Luke Kunin will most likely miss at least one game as well as he faces a suspension hearing by the IIHF for the hit that caused it.

Video: HockeyVideos

When I watched this live I was skeptical of Kunin being ejected from the game. It looked like a good solid hit that may or may not have been a touch late but was just a hockey play. I initially thought interference was a good call but the major and ejection was a bit much.

The IIHF tends to overreact to any questionable play that causes an injury. It is what it is so the ejection wasn’t that unexpected even if unjustified, but what could there be about it to force a suspension if one comes?

Looking at it again, I can see their point. If you’re looking at the lateness of the play alone I don’t think there’s much of a case. Meyers was in a position where he should still have reasonably expected a hit to be possible. He hadn’t changed body position since his pass and was essentially a sitting duck waiting for the shot to be fired.

Kunin also keeps his stick out of it and his hands down, he stops striding, and he leads with the shoulder. It’s a good hockey hit, except for one thing: the upward extension. Here’s a photo sequence:

Kunin approaches.  He’s in a natural gliding posture, sizing up Phillipe (who still has the puck)
Kunin crouches low, preparing to hit.
Impact: Kunin is standing so tall he’s almost off his feet, legs straight. Since he was just squatted down, the force of the hit was greatly increased by this sudden upward explosion.

I understand it’s natural to push upward into a hit once contact is made, but Kunin explodes upward well before then, significantly increasing the probability of catching the head.

I don’t think there was any malicious intent so any more than one game would be overkill, especially where it would be a quarter final game. I agree though that no suspension at all would take away from the standard the IIHF has set.