Branch will whack Wolve

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The axe will fall tomorrow on Sudbury Wolves enforcer Kyle Musselman.

OHL commissioner Dave Branch completed his investigation into Musselman's unprovoked cheapshot to the head of 67's winger Mark Mancari yesterday.

Branch said his decision on Musselman's actions will be handed down tomorrow, but wouldn't say much more than that last night at the Civic Centre.

"The process is important here. This is a very serious matter. I think it would be unfair to comment partway through (the process)," said Branch, who has had little tolerance in the past for acts of violence in his league.

While it's very likely Wolves coach Mike Foligno will escape unscathed, the incident would have been avoided if Foligno hadn't put Musselman on the ice in the closing minutes of a game the Wolves were about to lose 6-2.

He was only out there for one thing and it wasn't to get a hat trick on one shift to get the Wolves back in the game.

Unfortunately for hockey, the tradition of "sending a message" in the closing minutes of a one-sided loss lives on.

I love tough, hard-nosed hockey as much as anybody, but there are some things about old-time hockey that are just old.

Sending out your goon, who just might beat up one of the other team's best players (what else does he do?) in a game in which you've gotten your ass kicked is one of them.

"That's a real test for hockey as a whole, at all levels," said Branch, who has penalized coaches when there has been evidence they encouraged their players to cross the line.

While there might be an absence of testimony Foligno instructed Musselman to do what he did, Musselman didn't need to be told.

His presence on the ice spoke volumes.

BAD BREAK FOR REID: 67's D Elgin Reid could be lost for the rest of the playoffs after suffering what might have been a broken leg last night in the second period. It was a freak play. After he took a high stick in the chin from Sudbury's Rafal Martynowski, he hurt his leg when he fell into the boards. Reid had been playing with Brad Staubitz to make up a solid duo.

HEAR AND THERE: I don't want to say it was a slow start last night, but the Wolves iced the puck three times before the game was two minutes old ... Former 67's owner Earl Montagano was on hand for last night's game. After wintering in Florida, he hasn't missed a 67's home playoff game ... Among the faces in the crowd last night: Coyotes brain trust Mike Barnett, Cliff Fletcher and Charlie Henry ... The Senators were represented by GM John Muckler and assistant GM Peter Chiarelli.

SPECULATIONS: Mancari showed pretty early on if he was suffering from any effects of the Musselman cheap shot, he wasn't letting them bother him. He made a wonderful one-handed pass in the neutral zone to set up a 2-on-1 for linemates Brad Bonello and Bryan Bickell ... A little while later, he slammed Wolves captain Zack Stortini into the boards inside the Ottawa blue line. "I was so hesitant the first couple of shifts," said Mancari. "Near the end of the second, I started feeling a lot better, more confident." That would be just before he scored on a breakaway with 6.7 seconds left in the second to make it 5-2 ... Mancari's head took another whack after his goal. He stumbled against Sudbury's Jonathan D'Aversa and went face-first into the boards. Mancari could only shake his head about it all in the dressing room after the game.

REVELATIONS: There were 49 Sudbury shots last night, but the ones that hurt the most weren't the two that found the back of the net. Alexander Eaton's wrister caught 67's G Danny Battochio right on the collarbone it looked like ... Right before Arron Alphonso opened the scoring with his first playoff goal, he took a huge run at one of the Wolves at the Sudbury blue line, helping create the confusion that resulted in that goal.

JUST WONDERING: 2-0 for the 67's six minutes into the game and the goals were scored by a couple of 16-year-olds (Alphonso and Jamie McGinn.) How often do you see that? ... How about this: The 67's are on the cusp of reaching the conference championship with Jakub Petruzalek and Lucas Kaspar, their prize European imports, playing on the third line (actually they were down to being on the fourth line in the second period last night). That says something about them. It says even more about the young guys stepping up and playing in front of them.

LEMME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: Last night's game was a sellout, which is the way it should be in the playoffs ... You won't see many better open-ice hits than the one Ottawa's Nick Van Herpt put on Sudbury's Stefan Blaho in the third ... The 67's will practise at the Civic Centre today and fly to Sudbury tomorrow for tomorrow night's game. It pays to have an owner like Jeff Hunt, huh?

PARTING SHOT: When asked about 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea's comparison of the Musselman punch to the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident, Branch replied: "That's Mr. Kilrea's opinion," and with a smile, he added: "and Mr. Kilrea is prone to giving his opinion." And we like him for that. A lot.


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