Hockey coach’s decision results in suspension

A tumultuous five weeks for the men’s hockey team came to an end Jan. 13 when coach Marlin Muylaert returned following his one-month suspension.

The suspension stemmed from events during a Dec. 9 game at Augsburg College (Minn.). Muylaert allowed Augsburg to score two uncontested goals and later removed his team from the ice with 7 minutes and 5 seconds remaining in the third period.

“Coach Muylaert had stated he had taken the team off the ice for their safety,” said Steve Tallant, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs. “Everyone who reviewed the tape didn’t feel there was a safety issue.”

Tallant, who made the decision to suspend Muylaert for one month of practices and the five scheduled games, emphasized that Muylaert has been extremely honest and straightforward throughout the entire situation.

“He believes he did the right thing,” Tallant said of the second-year head coach. “He’s never minimized what he did. He’s taken full responsibility for what he did. We just differ on whether it was the right thing to do.”

After serving the suspension, Muylaert said his actions on the night in question were justified.

“It was a drastic situation that called for drastic measures,” said Muylaert, who admitted that what he did was against the ethics of the game.

“It was a situation out of control,” Muylaert said. “I knew there was going to be a penalty and I knew I’d pay it.”

Muylaert, who said he was slightly surprised by the length of the suspension, didn’t discuss many of the specifics of the game. He pulled his goalie early in the third period while trailing 9-1, allowing Augsburg to score two uncontested goals. A Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rule then took effect that calls for running time when one team trails by at least 10 goals in the third period.

With 7:05 left in the period, Muylaert pulled his team from the ice and waited on the bench with the coaching staff until the remaining time ran off the clock.

Eau Claire was whistled for 23 penalties for 92 minutes in the game. Augsburg was called for 10 for 31. Augsburg was awarded a 1-0 forfeit victory in accordance with NCAA rules.

“Coach and I have agreed to disagree on this,” Tallant said. “He believed he was justified in that and I didn’t.”

Brandon Klement served as interim coach during Muylaert’s absence. The Blugolds went 2-3 during the span.

Senior wing Adam Sklader said the team has supported Muylaert throughout the ordeal.

“The officiating was what we think wasn’t good,” Sklader said of the Augsburg game.

Sklader said he didn’t think any of the players expected Muylaert’s specific actions, but added, “I don’t think any of us had been in a game like that.”

“(But) a coach finally stood up for his team,” he said.

The Northern Collegiate Hockey Association and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Hockey Association, however, agreed with the suspension. The two organizations sent out a press release supporting the administration’s decision.