Atlantic Hockey handed down a pair of suspensions from Saturday’s Canisius-Niagara game.
Niagara freshman Patrick Conte and Canisius junior Doug Beck were each suspended for one game for hits in the contest at Dwyer Arena. Niagara (1-2) won the game, 6-4.
Beck will sit out the Golden Griffins’ next game, Oct. 25 at Air Force, after the league office determined his cross-checking penalty in the first period was a hit from behind.
“You look at the distance from the body and the stick went right across the back of the other player, driving him head-first into the boards,” Atlantic Hockey commissioner Robert DeGregorio said.
Conte will miss Niagara’s game Saturday at Robert Morris for his hit on Canisius freshman Shane Conacher. There was no penalty called on the play, but the league office determined Conte’s shoulder and arm extended to make contact with Conacher’s head.
Conacher left the game and will miss the next six weeks with a facial injury.
Last year, Canisius forward Matthew Grazen was suspended for seven games for an illegal check from behind on George Michalke of Air Force on Oct. 25. Michalke left the game and suffered a concussion on the play.
At the time, DeGregorio said the extent of the injury played a role in his decision to issue such a harsh suspension – the longest in Atlantic Hockey history for an in-game incident.
“In viewing what happened, and the extent of the injury – and one of the things that I do and others don’t, is they don’t weigh the extent of the injury – I felt it was important,” DeGregorio said last November when he visited Buffalo shortly after the suspension was issued.
The extent of the injury didn’t seem to play as big a role in the decision to suspend Conte for one game after his hit on Conacher.
“The biggest difference was, if you look at it in slow motion, as unfortunate as it is he saw Patrick coming at him,” DeGregorio said on Thursday. “He put his hands up to protect himself.
“We did determine that Patrick extended his shoulder and right elbow. It’s difficult to prove intent … but if you watch him, he puts his stick in his right hand away from Conacher. I can’t tell intent. There’s no doubt he rose up. He never left his feet, but contact to the head is serious.”
Due to league rules, both Canisius and Niagara declined comment. The respective plays were reviewed by the league at the request of head coaches Dave Smith and Dave Burkholder.
Last year, Grazen waited to serve the final two games of his suspension until Canisius faced Air Force later in the season. DeGregorio said he was not concerned about retribution for the hits in the Canisius-Niagara game and therefore the players will serve their one-game suspension in their team’s next game.