Fronts D-man pays price for cross-check

DOUG GRAHAM, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

The Kingston Frontenacs finish off their Ontario Hockey League regular season knowing the team's first playoff series in three years will start next week.

However, they'll have to open the post-season against an undetermined opponent without a towering defenceman.

The 6-foot-8 Taylor Doherty, who had an all-star type second half of the season, won't be in the lineup for next Friday's first-ever playoff game at the K-Rock Centre.

The Frontenacs received word late yesterday that Doherty has received a five-game suspension for the cross-check he delivered to the head of Ottawa 67's defenceman Marc Zanetti in last Sunday's game at the K-Rock Centre.

Doherty will miss the final three games of the regular season and the first two playoff games -- against either the Brampton Battalion, the Niagara IceDogs or the Sudbury Wolves.

"It's a tough decision but (the league) made it and I have to live with that," said Doherty, who was pulled aside by coach Doug Gilmour after practice to hear the ruling made at an OHL disciplinary meeting. Doherty wasn't called to attend the meeting.

"I had no intention to do what it may have looked like," added Doherty, who never had received a match penalty before Sunday's call.

Doherty, who has 372 penalty minutes in his three seasons with the Frontenacs, has been a big part of Kingston's second-half improvement, which has seen the team play .650 hockey since the Christmas break. His 16 goals and 44 points are career highs.

The Frontenacs are already down a defenceman with Tyler Mort out with a knee injury. He will not play this weekend, but could be back for the playoffs.

Otherwise, Gilmour will be going with Erik Gudbranson, Brian Lashoff, Cameron Odam, Jaroslav Kruzik and Clark Seymour on defence for the first two games of the playoffs.

That group won't be overused this weekend as the Frontenacs close out the 68-game schedule with three games that hold no significance for Kingston, which is locked into fourth in the Eastern Conference. Gilmour said ice time will be spread around and he will roll the lines.

"We can't get into bad habits. That's the biggest thing," said Gilmour, adding that playing "nothing games" isn't the easiest thing to do.

"It's hard. ... But at the same time you don't want to take anything for granted. Just keep on playing.

"Before you know it, this weekend's over and we're focusing on who we're going to face in the playoff."

Among the players slated to have some down time on the weekend is workhorse goalie Tyler Beskorowany. who will play tomorrow against the Sudbury Wolves in the home finale before sitting out the final two games. It will be his 16th straight start. John Cullen, recovering from a knee injury, will play Saturday in Barrie and possibly Sunday in Brampton.

The other option is Franky Palazzese. He has joined the Frontenacs after his Markham Waxers were eliminat

ed by the Wellington Dukes in a seven-game series in the Canadian Central Junior League.

While he welcomes the break, Beskorowany, 19, said it is important for the team to keep its edge for post-season play.

"We're playing good hock-e

y and we want to keep it that way going into the playoffs," said Beskorowany, who is looking for win No. 30 of the season.

Only three other goalies, Peter Di Salvo of Barrie, Troy Passingham of Windsor and Matt Hackett of Plymouth, have won more starts.

Beskorowany also has played more than 3,400 minutes, which works out to 20 games more than he played in either of his first two seasons in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack.

"When I came here I knew I would get lots of ice time and I did. I couldn't have asked for anything more," Beskorowany said.

The 6-foot-5 goalie, who is from Hanmer, a hamlet north of Sudbury, raised his level of play over the season's second half. He has career-best totals in victories, save percentage (.905) and goals-against average (3.50).

"It's been a pretty solid year so far -- for me and the team," Beskorowany said.

"The playoffs are a whole different (type of ) hockey. I'm looking forward to getting a second crack at it."

Similar to most of his teammates, Beskorowany's playoff resume is skimpy. Not too pretty, either, in his case.

"Five goals against on 25 shots in half a game against Windsor. It didn't work out so well that time," Beskorowany said.


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