Hockey: CW recap - Series splits overshadowed by Liambas' on-ice attack

The regular season didn't go into the books quietly this weekend with the playoff picture coming down to the last night of the 2010-11 regular season, and a scary incident in Vancouver where OHL outcast Mike Liambas attacked Golden Bears captain Eric Hunter.

After dropping their Friday night contest 6-3 to Saskatchewan - a result that clinched the Huskies a playoff berth - the Manitoba Bisons came out Saturday night in need of a win to guarantee themselves of a postseason spot. The Bisons did just that with a convincing 6-2 win over Saskatchewan, which would prove to be the difference in the playoff race as Lethbridge went on to win their Saturday night game in Calgary 2-1 in OT.

That win for the 'Horns came after a 5-2 loss to the Dinos a night earlier. The Pronghorns victory Saturday would prove inconsequential after the Herd's win earlier that evening, with the playoff picture settled providing these Canada West semi-final matchups:

#1 Alberta vs. #4 Manitoba - The Bears went 3-1-0 against Manitoba this season, but the teams' last two meetings earlier this month were both one goal contests in which Alberta triumphed 4-3 in a SO and then 4-3 in OT. The Golden Bears and Bisons meet in a rematch of last season's Canada West final. Alberta won that series in three games, but Steve Christie gave the Bears fits all weekend long and will be the key to this series again.

#2 Calgary vs. #3 Saskatchewan - Calgary hosts this series against a Saskatchewan team that has had success against the Dinos this season going 3-1-0 and outscoring head coach Mark Howell's team 11-4 in those three victories. The Huskies are 2-3-1 over the last three season though at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary, and the Olympic-sized ice surface will be a factor in this series.

More on those matchups later this week, but the big news from this past weekend of Canada West action was in Vancouver where Mike Liambas wrote another chapter in his tumultuous hockey career. I wasn't in Vancouver to watch the games between Alberta and UBC - a series split that saw UBC win 3-2 Friday before the Bears bounced back with a 4-0 win Saturday night - so I will save final judgment on the play that injured Hunter Friday night until I see the video this week, but here's how Bears head coach Eric Thurston described the play in the Globe and Mail:

Liambis goes right after Hunter and drops his gloves and hits him from the side and behind then plants him into the ice...(Hunter) had cuts under his (right eye) and stitches and he’s had headaches and dizziness. Our trainers were with him all night and the doctor will be examining him today.

Liambas was assessed a minor penalty, a five-minute major, and a game misconduct on the play. He was suspended for Saturday night's game, and further punishment has yet to be handed down after receiving an automatic two-game ban. Canada West convenor Bill Seymour said Sunday there was no timeline for further discipline.

Just how long Hunter is out remains to be seen, but if he misses any time because of the incident the Bears national title hopes will take a serious hit. Hunter is the key to the Bears' top six forwards given the edge and offensive ability he provides.

As for commenting on Liambas, I won't jump to conclusions about how vicious his intent was until I see the video, but I will say this - he wasn't barred from the Ontario Hockey League for nothing. Sometimes history repeats itself, and unfortunately, it seems that's what's happened here, as a player with a past has brought his former problems to the present.

U of A hockey captain suffers concussion after on-ice attack - The Globe and Mail
Canada West looking at Liambas incident - Metro
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1 comment:

  1. For the sake of both perspectives on the Liambas thing:

    "There was no pre-meditation," Dragicevic explained Sunday. "Our player got speared, there was no call and he retaliated. That's what happened. The two players were jostling, they were skating together, side-by-side and Mike dropped his gloves. Their player got knocked to his knees, both players dropped their gloves, there was a tussle and then they were separated.

    "Their player skated off on his own and, from accounts, he had a concussion. He sat out Saturday's game for precautionary reasons."

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