Cardiff Devils players banned after Coventry Blaze brawl

Cardiff Devils forward Max Birbraer has been suspended for eight games after ugly scenes following their 3-2 Challenge Cup defeat to Coventry Blaze.

Police were called to a brawl involving players and a spectator at the end of the loss when Birbraer was sent off for reacting to an elbow in the face.

Devin Didiomete has been suspended for four games and Devils bench coach Neil Francis is banned for five games.

An Elite League disciplinary committee warned the clubs about future conduct.

Cardiff coach Gerad Adams and Blaze boss Paul Thompson have been given "strong warnings" by the league that "any repeat offences will see further punishment" by the disciplinary committee following Sunday's incident.

Birbraer's automatic five-match ban for "cross-checking to the head" during the game was upheld.

But a further automatic three-match sanction was added to 31-year-old's punishment after Birbraer, who had already been dismissed, left the dressing room to join the altercation, which has been captured on video and been posted on YouTube. 

The committee also concluded that Didiomete had returned to the ice join the altercation after being escorted off the playing surface and he will also serve a three-match ban.

The Devils cannot appeal against the penalties handed out to their two players.

Francis, a member of the Devils coaching team, was given a further four-match ban by the disciplinary committee for "travesty of the game" which added to the one-match suspension for his role in the brawl.

Francis's additional four-match ban, however, can be appealed by the Devils.

Coventry defenceman Benn Olson's match penalty for an incident with a spectator when leaving the ice was assessed.

The police had previously discovered the fan had "instigated the altercation" and he was given advice about his behaviour so the penalty against Olson has been removed and no further action will be taken.

Elite League's head of discipline Simon Kirkham said: "The strict procedure was followed to come to these conclusions and we reviewed the reports from the on-ice officials and slow-motion replays of the incidents.

"Max Birbraer cross-checked Benn Olson to the head during the game. This is a very dangerous incident and with it comes a lengthy penalty.

"There were a number of unsavory incidents after the final hooter and two Cardiff players returned to join in the altercation and so receive bans for this.

"Due to the actions of Neil Francis during the incident, we believe it is worthy of further punishment, so have increased his ban.

"We have reviewed the incident with Benn Olson and the supporter when leaving the ice and it shows Olson acted in self-defence, so have wiped this penalty from his records.

"The area where the fan confronted Olson is out of bounds to the public and the supporter had no right to be there.

"Coaches have a responsibility to control their players, so I have sent strong warnings to both Gerad Adams and Paul Thompson that further incidents like this will not be tolerated."

The Elite League are also finalising investigations into off-ice incidents which took place after the game and will issue a further statement in due course.