Niagara This Week
The Ontario Hockey League suspended first-line forward Brett Ritchie of the Niagara IceDogs on Tuesday for two games.
Ritchie was handed the suspension for dropping the gloves with Nick Czinder, after the Peterborough Petes forward stapled took rookie Aaron Haydon to the boards with a heavy hit at the Jack Gatecliff Arena on Saturday.
Haydon lay on the ice squirming in pain as Ritchie engaged Czinder in a fight.
“We weren’t too surprised. The league has the new instigator rule where if there’s a big hit laid and a guy on your team goes over and says ‘I don’t like that hit, do you want to go?’ then chances are they’re going to come down on you,” said IceDogs assistant general manager Joey Burke. “The length of the suspension was pretty much what we thought it would be.”
Ritchie, who recently returned from camp with the Dallas Stars, is second on the team in scoring with 28 goals and 52 points in 35 games. The right winger is an integral part of Niagara’s special teams as well. He’s converted nine goals with the man advantage and regularly kills off penalties with ease alongside captain Ryan Strome.
The timing of the suspension also hurts the IceDogs chances of clawing their way out of a current four-game losing streak. Niagara is 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 games.
Ritchie will miss the IceDogs hosting the Eastern Conference-leading Barrie Colts on Thursday and the club’s annual Pink in the Rink charity game versus Saginaw on Saturday.
“From a marketing standpoint it’s not ideal. Ritchie is a big piece that’s going to be missing with Barrie coming in here on Thursday,” added Burke. “It’s going to be on the younger guys to step up and hopefully get a win, or revenge on the 5-1 loss we took from them at the Molson Centre a couple of weeks ago.”