KO ‘just breaks my heart’

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NEW Zealand’s ice hockey chief says it broke his heart to see a Queenstown player viciously king-hit during a game.

Southern Stampede star Matt Schneider was knocked out cold during the season opener in Christchurch last Sunday.

Schneider was sucker-punched during a break in play by Canterbury Red Devils captain Hayden Argyle, while being held by another player.

The 195cm Canadian import was left unconscious on the ice as medical staff rushed to his aid.

New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation president Grant Hay says a disciplinary tribunal will convene tonight.

“It just breaks my heart,” Hay says.

“I’ve spent so long over the last 10 years promoting ice hockey as a safe alternative to rugby and rugby league and other contact sports.

“Our sport relies on getting kids to come along and play and they’re not going to do that if their parents don’t believe it’s safe and well run.

“Everything we do takes a step back when something like this happens. I’m really disappointed and will never accept it’s an in-evitable part of the game.”

Hay says he’d need time to reflect before commenting on whether police should become involved in such incidents.

“I’ve not thought that through,” Hay says. “I’ll consider that question and comment on that later.”

Southern Stampede captain Bert Haines, who also captains the Ice Blacks, says it was unacceptable.

“It’s outside the scope of the game,” Haines says.

“Unfortunately the Canterbury player decides to take it one step too far. I’m not a big fan of the police becoming involved to be fair. I’d like to think the sport can govern itself.

“Shy of someone taking a skate off and doing something nuts I wouldn’t want the police involved.”

Argyle gets an automatic two-match ban and Hay says there’s no maximum tariff to the penalty he might receive after the tribunal hearing.

New Zealand Police confirmed the incident has not been reported and is not being investigated.

A police spokesperson says there’s no specific policy relating to incidents on the field of play at sporting events.

“Any decision by the police to look at a matter is determined by the circumstances.’’

Hay says he’ll be disappointed if the two teams don’t hold conciliatory talks but Haines says none are planned.

“We’ll just move on and take the positives we can from the game,” he says.

Schneider was taken to hospital for X-rays and given the all clear. He was back on the ice on Tuesday night but still has a sore neck.

Stampede lost both games against the defending champions 4-2. The next games are on June 21 and 22 during Queenstown Winter Festival against Dunedin Thunder.