Liscomb stunned by suspension

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

Brett Liscomb of the 67's and the Petes' Steve Downie had a chuckle on the phone yesterday morning when they spoke about their starring roles during Friday night's Slurgate incident in Peterborough.

But later yesterday, Liscomb wasn't in such a joking mood when the OHL hit the Long Sault native with a a five-game suspension for calling Downie "fag" during an on-ice altercation.

That means if the 67's beat the Petes this afternoon at the Civic Centre and go on to win the series, Liscomb wouldn't be eligible to return until the fourth game of the next playoff round.

"You play your whole season for these two months. To be on the outside looking in is just disappointing," he said yesterday.

Liscomb received a gross misconduct from referee Mike Pearce, who worked the game with fellow ref Carman Cox, during the second period of Friday's 4-3 overtime loss.

He and Downie argued with each other during a stoppage in play near the Peterborough net. Moments later, an upset Liscomb was sent off the ice by the officials and headed for the Ottawa locker room.

Liscomb claimed Downie slurred him, to which the Ottawa player replied, "F--- you, fag."

Ted Baker, the OHL's referee-in-chief, said the league based the suspension on precedent.

Earlier this week, London Knights player Kris Belan received a gross misconduct and five-game suspension for uttering an on-ice slur at a referee.

Two years ago, James Wisniewski of the Plymouth Whalers received a gross misconduct and five-game suspension for uttering what the league considered a taboo phrase.

EARLIER BANS

After being challenged to a fight by Owen Sound sniper Stefan Ruzicka, a native of Slovakia, Wisniewski said he didn't fight "Euros," a comment overheard by an official.

"The league has been consistent in the message we send about inappropriate verbal interaction," said Baker yesterday. "There's non-tolerance from the league's standpoint."

Baker added the league issues minimum five-game suspensions "for certain inappropriate comments that were made."

67's owner Jeff Hunt said he realizes the sensitivity of the issue but thought the league would consider the circumstances of this particular incident. Liscomb and Downie are friends who began the season as teammates with the Windsor Spitfires and roomed together during road trips.

"I would have thought an offence against an official would be a greater than something said in the heat of battle between two friends on the ice," said Hunt.

Hunt said he would speak with OHL commissioner Dave Branch about the matter.

The reality for the 67's is they won't have Liscomb for the rest of the series and really can't afford to have him gone from the lineup.

Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea said yesterday he'd probably wait until this morning before deciding how to juggle the lines to compensate for Liscomb's absence.

Liscomb works on the team's top unit with veteran centre Julian Talbot and right winger Chris Hulit.

To make matters worse, Hulit, who scored 32 goals during the regular season, has been sick for the past week and left the ice during yesterday morning's practice.

"He couldn't get out of bed one day, and another day he couldn't eat anything," said Kilrea.

"He just not the Chris Hulit we know."

BARRE.CAMPBELL@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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