Knights in tougher if Bolland banned

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

The London Knights explanation is simple, consistent and it doesn't deviate much no matter whom you talk to.

Star player David Bolland was spun around by a linesman, lost his balance and accidently kicked Owen Sound Attack's Mike Angelidis in the groin area.

Whether the league sees it that way will go a long way in determining how the Ontario Hockey League semifinal against Owen Sound plays out.

The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 after the Attack won 5-3 at home Saturday. Game 3 is tonight at the John Labatt Centre.

In the second period Saturday, Bolland was given a match penalty for kicking. Any match penalty is automatically reviewable. This season Owen Sound netminder Michael Ouzas and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Tyler Kennedy were given four-game suspensions for kicking match penalties.

Ted Baker, OHL director of hockey operations and referee-in-chief, spent yesterday going over the referee's report, looking at the video and getting accounts of what happened.

"We want to be thorough," Baker said. "With kicking, there's a minimum of four games."

A decision is expected today "provided we are comfortable that we have all the information we need," said OHL commissioner David Branch, who has watched the video numerous times.

The implications for the Knights are frightening. Bolland has been their most dominating player. His loss would affect every facet of their game.

The Bolland incident took place when several players were pushing and shoving, not an unusual occurrence in this series. Bolland and Angelidis were together when a linesman grabbed Bolland and attempted to pull him away. There was some tussling, Bolland looked behind him and his leg comes back and connects with Angelidis.

"We got into a little pushing. Angelidis was on top of me. We started going at it and were hitting each other," Bolland said. "The (linesman) tried to get me out of there and he sort of spun me around. I sort of lost balance on one foot, turned around to look where Angelidis was and was trying to regain my balance. I didn't intend to hit him or anything."

Bolland said he didn't know he'd made contact with Angelidis. When he was going to the penalty box, he thought it was because of the scrum with Angelidis, not because of a kicking penalty.

Bolland believes the video will vindicate him. But what's on the tape is open to interpretation and the referee's report.

"The referee immediately made the call. The penalty was called. Everyone knew what the call was," Attack general manager Mike Futa said. "David Bolland is one of my favourite hockey players, but he made no argument when the call was made."

Branch said he will talk to the officials involved in the game and to Bolland.

Futa didn't comment directly on the incident, except that it's now in the league's hands and that precedent had been set with Ouzas and Kennedy.

"We've gone through the process. I'm sure the league will be very consistent in their views with what a kicking motion is," he said. "It was made quite clear to us it doesn't even have to be an intent to injure as long as it's a sustained kicking motion."

Knights general manager Mark Hunter was optimistic things would work out.

"I think it will be OK," he said. "There was no kicking motion. He was spun around and was falling down. He's not the kind of kid who would do this."

There was a distinct difference between the pre-Bolland and post-Bolland Knights on Saturday. He not only scores but is also a great penalty killer. With the way the series is going, they'll need Bolland's toughness.

But the Knights have other issues.

Defensively, they weren't very good on Saturday.

"We weren't sharp," assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "We (the defence) caused four of the five goals."

It's the Knights defence the Attack hope to break down.

"I thought we played well in Game 1, but it's the playoffs and you have to come back with something in Game 2," Beaulieu said. "We didn't and that's disappointing. That's why it's a seven-game series."

A seven-game series with a kicked-up intensity, especially if Bolland becomes a spectator.


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