League jumps into the fray

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

ERIE, PA. -- The OHL has instructed the London Knights and Erie Otters to tone it down for the remainder of their playoff series.

At the same time, Erie's Tullio Arena staff repaired the dividing glass between the teams' benches and beefed up security behind the Knights bench.

With this much bad blood brewing, no one took any chances into Game 4.

"I don't think anything's going to change," said Otters forward Shawn Szydlowski. "We want to win and they want to win and both teams are competing as hard as they can. That's just the way it is."

The OHL also suspended Knights assistant coach Pat Curcio two games for the game misconduct he received during the wild melee in the third period of Erie's 4-0 win in Game 3 on Wednesday.

Last night, London forward Zac Rinaldo served the third of the obligatory three games that comes with a match penalty. But the league still hasn't handed down a definite punishment for his checking from behind on Erie star Ryan O'Reilly in Game 1.

Since that play, the series has featured several dangerous-looking hits and obvious checks from behind on both sides. When Erie's Luke Gazdic and London's Leigh Salters traded blows on Wednesday, the thinking was the two heavyweights would help settle things down and the skill players could get back to hockey.

It didn't happen. In fact, it got worse.

But Salters doesn't believe in the carry-over effect.

"Each game is on its own and you just forget about the last one after it's done and focus on getting ready for the next one," said the six-foot-five, 225-pound Londoner . "We just want to win and close this series out. The other stuff doesn't matter."

During the scrum near the benches, Salters was seen seething at Gazdic, who struck Daniel Erlich on the neck with his stick blade. Erlich went to the dressing room doubled over in pain, and yesterday sported a wide, red scrape.

He recovered enough to suit up last night. The incident wasn't on video so the Knights had no evidence to send to the OHL for review.

Salters, who appeared against the Knights in past playoffs while a member of the Guelph Storm, isn't surprised by the physicality of the series.

"I don't think it's any more physical than other series. It's the playoffs. It's going to be like this. Teams like to bang more at home and that's what they did."

With Rinaldo out, the Knights put together a bang-and-crash line of Salters, Jason Wilson and Dominic DeSando.

"It's gone pretty good," Salters said. "We're all similar players who like to hit."


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