STEPHEN LEITHWOOD/Niagara This Week
Just when the Niagara IceDogs are at full strength, a slew of injuries and a heavy suspension turn things upside down.
The Ontario Hockey League suspended IceDogs star defenceman Dougie Hamilton for 10 games on Thursday afternoon. Hamilton delivered a check to the head to Sudbury Wolves captain Michael MacDonald during a game at Sudbury Community Arena on Jan. 13.
As MacDonald wheeled into the IceDogs’ zone with the puck, Hamilton body checked the unsuspecting Wolves forward while his elbow connected to MacDonald’s head.
MacDonald suffered a concussion on the play and the IceDogs won 5-2. The league decided upon 10 games after they determined that Hamilton’s hit was a check to the head on a vulnerable player that resulted in an injury.
Hamilton, a Boston Bruins prospect, leads all OHL defencemen in scoring with 13 goals and 50 points in 34 games. He won’t be eligible to return until next month when the IceDogs are on the road in Oshawa on Sunday, Feb. 12.
“It’s tough. More things have happened than usual in a normal season. We just have to keep our heads above water and focus on the task at hand,” said IceDogs general manager and coach Marty Williamson. “We wanted to have a good team, so that’s why we made all those trades to give us depth.”
Ryan Strome and blueliner Brock Beukeboom are also out with injuries.
The IceDogs, who are on a four-game win streak since four of their top players returned from Team Canada at the World Juniors, recently loaded up on talented skaters before the OHL trade deadline. Left winger Tom Kuhnhackl also returned from a 20-game suspension on Jan. 6.
Niagara visits the Erie Otters on Friday.