Some of the longest suspensions in the history of college hockey were handed down by Atlantic Hockey last night in the aftermath of the Canisius-RIT melee that took place last Saturday night.
Commissioner Bob DeGregorio issued a total of 20 additional games worth of suspensions to eight separate players, suspending two of the players involved for the remainder of the regular season.
Canisius sophomore defenseman Carl Hudson and RIT senior co-captain Ricky Walton will each sit out the remainder of the regular season. For Hudson, who originally was assessed a double game disqualification which carries with it a three game suspension, he will sit a total of seven games. Walton, who was originally suspended for just one game, will miss five additional games.
The remaining six players – Canisius’s Phil Raush, Taylor Anderson and Jason Weeks and RIT’s Tyler Mazzei, Louis Menard and Stephen Burns – all will sit out their club’s next game before returning to the lineup.
Walton and Hudson’s suspensions are among the longest in recent memory as a result of on-ice actions. Both played key roles in adding fuel to the fire at separate times during the fight.
Walton’s actions came first. As things were beginning to be brought under control, he punched a Canisius player from behind. Shortly thereafter Hudson, who had already been placed in the penalty box by the referee, exited the box, re-engaged in the altercation and proceeded to pound the head of an RIT player into the ice.
DeGregorio said that these actions warrented the extreme suspensions.
“Those suspensions were based on the degree of each player’s involvement [in the altercation],” said DeGregorio. “Hudson came out of the penalty box and re-engaged an RIT player. His actions re-ignited a very volitile situation and could’ve resulted in serious injury to either an RIT player or himself.
“In Walton’s case, in my judgement it was the severity of his involvement in the incident, particularly with the ‘sucker punch’ from behind of a Canisius player followed by additional fisticuffs.”
According to sources, RIT is appealing the suspensions, something DeGregorio confirmed.
“RIT does have an appeal filed and it will be heard [Friday] morning] before the Atlantic Hockey executive committee,” said DeGregorio. Canisius, meanwhile, issued a statement from Athletic Director Bill Maher on Thursday stating that the school fully accepts the supplemental punishment calling it “both substantial and appropriate under the circumstances.”
The executive committee is comprised of four athletic directors or senior administrators from Atlantic Hockey member schools: Holy Cross’ Bill Bellerose, Bentley’s Bob DeFelice, Sacred Heart’s Don Cook and AIC’s Richard Bedard.
With the committee hearing the appeal on Friday morning, the decision should be rendered before RIT’s next game Saturday night against Niagara.
Should nothing change based on the appeal, a total of 30 man games will have been lost to this altercation and Atlantic Hockey will have sent a very loud and clear message that fighting will not be tolerated. DeGregorio said that fighting is simply not part of “the culture of college hockey” and that he certainly doesn’t want it to be part of the league.