Top NHL prospect Adam Fantilli ejected for dangerous hit at World Championships

The Canadian forward caught an opponent with his head down along the boards, but was penalized due to the IIHF strict rules on head contact.

RIGA, LATVIA - MAY 22: Adam Fantilli of Canada in action during the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Finland - Latvia game between Canada and Norway at Arena Riga on May 22, 2023 in Riga, Latvia. (Photo by Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Top NHL draft prospect and Canada forward Adam Fantilli was ejected from a game against Norway on Monday for a hit to the head. (Photo by Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Team Canada can’t seem to keep it clean at this year’s IIHF World Championship, and the latest perpetrator is 2023 NHL Draft top prospect Adam Fantilli.

During Monday’s game against Norway, the Canadian centre went for a big hit along the boards as Norwegian defenceman Christian Kaasastul chased a loose puck. The 18-year-old forward raised his elbow ever so slightly and made contact with Kaasastul's lowered head.

The IIHF has extremely strict rules with head contact in its tournaments and therefore, after a review, Fantilli was ejected from the game. Even if the contact to Kaasastul’s head was incidental and Fantilli did not leave the ice to jump into the hit, any contact to a player’s head during a hit is punished, according to international hockey rules.

Norway would go on to secure a historic win over Canada, beating the hockey powerhouse 3-2 by way of a shootout for the nation's first win of the tournament.

Because of the in-game penalty and ejection, it is unlikely a suspension will follow. That's good news for Canada, since they are already missing a forward because of another bone-headed and dangerous play on the ice.

Detroit Red Wings centre Joe Veleno was suspended for five games after stomping on Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter's leg during a puck battle in Canada's loss to Switzerland on Saturday.

The 23-year-old was not awarded a penalty on the play.

This is both Veleno’s and Fantilli’s first appearance for Team Canada at the World Championships, but they have played for their country before in various junior tournaments.

Canada currently sits third in its group with a 3-1-1-1 record, below a Swiss team that boasts a perfect 6-0-0-0, as well as a Czechia squad with four wins. Canada plays its final game of the group stage on Tuesday before the elimination portion of the tournament begins Thursday.

Fantilli is projected to be a top-three selection at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft this June and recently won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player this season. He has registered two assists in six games so far in the tournament.