Sheffield Steelers: Michael Davies targeted by Manchester Storm in premeditated punch-up, claims Aaron Fox
The one-sided battering of Sheffield Steelers' smallest player had been premeditated, says coach Aaron Fox.
Centreman Michael Davies was pummelled into the ice on Wednesday night by substantially-bigger Manchester Storm opponent Mathieu Gagnon.
It happened with Storm on the attack at the Arena; defensive-minded Davies lifted Gagnon's stick and tried to cross-check him away from the crease.
Gagnon tore into his rival, landing a couple of ungloved upper cuts before continuing the assault on the ice and inside the net.
Both were later ejected. Gagnon hurled his helmet towards the benches as he stormed off the pad.
The former Nottingham Panthers' man had previously stated he was planning to take Davies on, said Fox, who appeared to get into a cross-bench war of words with Storm coach Ryan Finnerty after the player punch-up.
Fox said: "There are some guys in this league that are going to take liberties and that is what they are here for.
"Unfortunately Michael took the brunt end of that."
Fox said he assumed it had stemmed from an incident in the first minute of the Challenge Cup game, which Steelers won 8-2, when Davies had clipped goalie Matt Ginn and was penalised with a two-minute tripping minor.
That punishment was not deemed sufficient for Gagnon, six feet two inches tall, who made it plain he would hunt down five feet eight inches tall Davies.
Fox thought Davies' original contact on the goalie had been "completely incidental”.
“Gagnon came by the bench and said he was going to come for him later and he did.
"He jumped him. It is just one of those things that happen in a hockey game."
Davies had a blooded nose afterwards but nothing worse.
Meanwhile, injured Marco Vallerand remains doubtful this weekend's games against Guildford Flames.
The winger says he is a "maybe."
Coach Fox explained there had been "positive news back" from medical checks to an undisclosed injury.
It was nothing to keep out long term, but would need time to heal.
"I'd love to have him in our line up this weekend and I know he is one of those guys who can't stand not playing. If he is able to go, he'll go.
"There is no break and then you want to make sure there are no ligament issues so we have checked both those boxes off and now it is just making sure that he can't injure it worse by playing and making sure that he has got enough strength to be effective."