Junior hockey player suspended 25 games for grisly hit on goaltender

Greg Mulhall of the Yorkton Terriers levels goaltender Berk Berkeliev of the Melville Millionaires during third period action of a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League regular season game on Sept. 14, 2019. (Twitter//@HeresYourReplay)

It will be quite some time before Greg Mulhall has the opportunity to skate in a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) game again.

The 19-year-old Yorkton Terriers forward was slapped with a 25-game suspension on Monday for his gutless hit on Melville Millionaires goaltender Berk Berkeliev during the third period of a regular season game between the two sides on Sept. 14, 2019.

With the Terriers and Millionaires in the midst of a spirited affair that had already seen plenty of the rough stuff from the division rivals, a puck trickled into the Millionaires’ zone. With Mulhall in hot pursuit, Berkeliev skated out of his net and played the puck in the middle of the ice, near the top of the circles. A fraction of a second later, he was intentionally bowled over by Mulhall and chaos ensued as a result.

The hit caused the goaltender’s helmet to fly off and he appeared to lie motionless on the ice while a brawl between the two squads broke out.

Berkeliev was taken to the hospital after receiving medical attention on the ice. Although he was released the following morning, Millionaires head coach Kyle Adams believed that the injuries the 18-year-old sustained could put a question mark on the rest of his season, as reported by Brendan Ellis of CTV News Regina.

“That's probably one of the dirtiest plays I’ve ever seen as a player and as a coach. That's the kind of stuff we need to get out of the game,” Adams said on Monday, according to Ellis.

Eight to 10 stitches on his face and upper lip, five stitches on the back of his head, missing teeth and a severe concussion were just some of the injuries Berkeliev suffered.

Mulhall was assessed a five-minute match penalty for “attempt to injure or deliberate injury” on the play, according to the contest’s game summary on the SJHL website.

“We have to make sure that other players are very much aware of the fact that these situations are not going to be tolerated,” said SJHL president Bill Chow after the league announced Mulhall’s suspension on Monday, per Ellis.

It’s the longest suspension that the SJHL has handed out during Chow’s nine years as president, according to Kelly Provost of the CBC.

The game, a 7-2 victory for Melville, ended with 228 penalty minutes.

Per Adams, via Provost, there is currently no timetable for Berkeliev’s return.

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