Ottawa captain facing hefty suspension
It could be the end of the line for Ottawa 67’s captain Marc Zanetti’s junior career.
The overage defenceman is likely facing a hefty suspension — his second of these playoffs — for a kicking incident in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final series against the Niagara IceDogs.
Zanetti was banned five games in the first round against the Belleville Bulls for spearing an opposing player during the pre-game warmup on March 23.
Friday in St. Catharines, Zanetti appeared to deliver a kick to Niagara forward Tom Kuhnhackl’s head as the forward lie prone on the ice after scoring the game’s opening goal midway through the third period.
“He kicked him in the back of the head,” Niagara coach Marty Williamson told QMI Agency following the game, won 2-1 in overtime by Niagara. “I don’t understand the mentality of a player going in and kicking another player when he is down on the ice.”
Kuhnhackl was not injured on the play and no penalty was called.
“The refs can’t see everything and there was a lot of commotion after the goal, but I looked at it four times on TV, and he just skates in and kicks him in the back of the head,” Williamson said.
Ottawa counterpart Chris Byrne was in no mood to talk about the incident Saturday.
“I don’t have much to say. Guys are going to have to step up in his absence and the league will decide,” said Byrne, who is expected to insert either 20-year-old Daniel Broussard or rookie Mike Vlajkov into the lineup.
Zanetti sat out Game 2 Sunday afternoon after a telephone hearing with OHL commissioner Dave Branch, who also spoke with Byrne.
The league released a statement saying its decision will be rendered “in the near future.”
Zanetti did not return requests for interviews Saturday.
If, as expected, the suspension is a lengthy one, overager Zanetti could have played his final game in junior.