Madison Packer, Randy Velisheck respond to one game suspension

“I think it’s bullshit,” said Packer Tuesday night when asked her thoughts on her one-game suspension. “I think that I consciously made a decision in that moment when her helmet came off. I had her on her knees with her face at my waist. I could have punched her in the face three or four times and I didn’t because I didn’t want to get suspended.”

Packer is referring to an exchange with now-retired Buffalo Beauts defender Sarah Casorso. The blueliner entered retirement with a bang after an exchange with Packer six minutes into the second period last Saturday at the HarborCenter.

Tuesday, the Riveters team was informed Madison Packer would be suspended one game after what was deemed a fight between her and Sarah Casorso on January 12th. The two were assessed a game misconduct in Buffalo last weekend.

The league assessed the exchange between Casorso and Packer a fight, thus making Packer’s suspension automatic, per the league. However, the rules are not so clear-cut, at least not to Packer.

“I think the reasoning is that it’s an NCAA rule but, most of us aren’t, you know, avid readers of the rulebooks and … when the league first had its first season we were all given a rulebook so we knew what the rules were. You know, if you did this you did that, you were in tune with it. Then we play International rules where you throw the puck out of the glass and it’s a delay of game. Well we didn’t know that rule changed until our first game this season when someone flipped the puck over the boards and they go, no no no we’re playing these rules and everyone’s like, well what are those rules?”

When I inquired with the league about which rules – NCAA rules, IIHF rules, or specific NWHL rules – no specific answer was given. However, best guess is the league has a hybrid approach to its rules in the 2018-19 season. For example, the NWHL adopted a rule about bench doors after an injury to former Riveter Taylor Holze.

The league also noted there is still a players safety committee and that players and team have the right to appeal a decision by the committee. However, in the case of Packer, she did not have a hearing and was instructed she is not able to appeal.

“I genuinely thought in my head, that’s not going to be much of anything. But then, no hearing, you know, none of that. It’s like, it would be nice to know which rulebook we’re following this season,” said Packer Tuesday.

She added, “To Hayley [Moore]’s defense (Moore is the NWHL Deputy Director), well it’s an NCAA rule, sure. But, I’ve also been informed that the ref went back and changed the call after the game was over. I don’t know any league where that’s allowed”

Sunday’s game against the Boston Pride has been postponed due to a winter storm warning issued for Essex County, New Jersey. It is likely Packer will miss the next scheduled Riveters game to serve her suspension.

With Packer out, that leaves a huge hole for Velischek and the Riveters. “Unfortunately I mean [Packer is] a big part of our team and it’s disappointing. At the end of the day though, there are repercussions I guess when you get involved in those kinds of fracases and that’s the price you pay.”

With today’s contest against the Boston pride being postponed, he and the team will have a bit more time to problem solve. “We’re just going to try and figure out who’s going to take Packers place in the middle of that line … someone’s got to step up and step in.” Recently, Packer has been flanked by Miye D’Oench and Amanda Kessel on the top line for the Riveters. Alexa Gruschow and Erika Lawler are potential candidates to replace Packer.

Packer is the second-leading scorer for the Riveters behind Audra Richards. Her six goals place her fifth among all NWHL scorers. In their next game on February 2, the Riveters will host the Beauts. The game has great potential to be dramatic, even without Packer or Casorso on the ice.

TIG Podcast patrons at the $5 level have access to the full audio from my interview with Packer.

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