Gauthier pays for hit

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Kyle Wellwood was sporting stitches over his right eye yesterday and a shiner to boot.

Denis Gauthier received a short holiday for his role in Wellwood's new look. The Philadelphia Flyers defenceman was suspended two games for hitting Wellwood from behind into the boards during the second period of the Leafs' 5-2 win on Saturday night. Gauthier will miss games against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, and will forfeit $13,602.04 US.

"Getting hit like that, I was fortunate just to get a cut," Wellwood said. "It's not a big deal to me and I have already forgotten about it."

Gauthier was assessed a major for boarding and a game misconduct for the hit, which occurred at the 22-second mark of the second period.

THE EARL OF RICOH?

The Maple Leafs are negotiating with the handlers of left-winger Robbie Earl, the University of Wisconsin forward who scored the Badgers opening goal in their 2-1 victory over Boston College in the NCAA championship game Saturday.

Earl, selected the most outstanding player in the Frozen Four, scored 21 goals and added 25 assists for Wisconsin this season.

Selected by the Leafs in the sixth round (187th overall) of the 2004 entry draft, Earl could be signed in the next few days. Should that be the case, he likely would join the Marlies in the playoffs.

BELAK STEPS UP

Wade Belak has not been a bust on the Leafs blue line since getting more of a regular role after the Olympic break and said his confidence has grown as a result.

"I have been a healthy scratch enough times in my career where it is nice to actually play," Belak said. "I want it to keep going. It has been a weird year, with playing forward (at times) and everything."

Belak and his defence partner, Aki Berg, would like to have one accomplish at least one thing this season: A goal scored by either. In a combined 120 games, the two have nine assists.

Berg has not scored since Jan. 5, 2004.


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