Coach worries player might be killed on ice

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

It might take more than a police assault investigation to eliminate headhunting and cheapshots from the Central Canada Hockey League.

According to a member of a rival coaching staff, who spoke to the Ottawa Sun on the condition of anonymity, Sunday’s on-ice incidents during a playoff game in Cornwall that sparked outrage and prompted a police investigation “are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“I strongly believe that at all levels of hockey, it is going to take someone to get killed before something is done,” said the coach.

Two Cornwall players have been suspended indefinitely by league commissioner Kevin Abrams. A final decision on the suspensions is expected on Wednesday.

Colts’ Michael Borkowski, who is the focus of the police investigation, was suspended after knocking Stallions goaltender Scott Shackell unconscious in the opening minute of Sunday’s game.

Shackell suffered a concussion and may not play again this season.

Colts defenceman Matthew Zanardo was suspended for a late-game spear, followed by a sucker punch and crosscheck to the head of Kanata’s Brandon Bussey. Zanardo had just returned from a one-game suspension levied after the final game of the regular season.

Kanata’s Ryan Bradley was suspended for one game after he was ejected Sunday, earning a “travesty of game” gross misconduct for flashing his middle finger to Cornwall fans as he skated to the dressing room.

Some of those 1,094 fans in attendance Sunday, as well as refs Tom Sweeney and Sean Reid, may be interviewed as witnesses if police pursue their investigation.

“When (a complaint) involves sports, it takes a lot of work,” said Cornwall Community Police Const. Brenda MacIntosh, saying the investigation is “open-ended.”

There was little of the rough stuff in Game 4 of the series Tuesday in Kanata. After the Stallions scored twice in the last 18 seconds of the third period, including the tying-goal by Ryan Donnelly with 0.3 seconds left, Jacob Laliberte scored in OT to give Cornwall a 4-3 win and 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Abrams said both teams have been put on notice with “several communications” directed to the coaches — Cornwall’s Ian MacInnis and Kanata’s Adam Dewan.

“The video I’ve been shown so far wasn’t clear enough, you can’t do frame-by-frame,” said the league’s VP of hockey operations Bruce Baskin. “I’ll be going to Cornwall (Wednesday). They have a better copy on the computer there and after I see that, I can make a decision.”

Abrams said the league added new rules this season in an effort to crack down.

“We’ve grouped them as high-consequence hits, and we added an automatic suspension of one game for even a major penalty (involving hits to the head),” said Abrams. “Any intentional contact to the head is something we’re really going to come down hard on.”

If the offence is intentional, the minimum suspension is three games, increasing for repeat offenders.

— With files from James Culic

aedan.helmer@sunmedia.ca


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