Sports

Suspension to Mooseheads captain 'the wrong call,' says GM

The Halifax Mooseheads will face elimination on Sunday without their captain.

Cameron Critchlow will serve an automatic one-game suspension in Game 6 of the QMJHL semifinal at 4 p.m. at the Metro Centre, a punishment that accompanies a game misconduct assessed to him in Friday’s 9-0 blowout loss to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The 20-year-old received the penalty for removing the helmet of Jonathan Lavoie in a fight, and Raymond Bolduc, the league’s disciplinary prefect, upheld the referee’s ruling after a review on Saturday.

Bolduc told Metro Halifax he didn't have enough video evidence to overturn the referee's call.

"For me to change the call, I need to see video where it's clear he didn't remove the helmet, but when you look at the video, on RDS, on Sportsnet, he put his hand on the helmet and the helmet fell on the ice," Bolduc said. "For me to change (the referee's call) I have to see a video clear he did not (remove the helmet), and that's not the case. The game suspension stays."

There is no way for the Mooseheads to appeal the decision.

Halifax trails the best-of-seven series 3-2. Critchlow is third in team scoring in the post-season with 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points in 16 games along with a plus-11 rating.

Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell didn’t mince words on the matter.

“It’s the wrong call,” Russell said. “If you’re going to make that call in Game 5 or Game 6 of the playoffs, you’d better be 100 per cent sure.”

Russell said it’s a “great rule” that should only apply when a player makes a “deliberate motion to yank or pull to take the helmet off.” But he said “not at any time did (Critchlow) deliberately grab a chin strap, an ear strap, or a helmet.”

“He (Lavoie) has a loose chin strap and the first punch hit the top of his helmet and that’s the only contact I saw his hand (make with) the helmet,” Russell said. “Then he pulled back the shirt to punch and the helmet came off.”

The Mooseheads have never played a game without Critchlow, who they acquired from the Victoriaville Tigres in the off-season for a fifth-round pick. He appeared in all 68 games in the regular season and was named the QMJHL’s winner of the Dickies hardest-working player award.

“It’s motivating because Cameron Critchlow is the most respected player on our hockey team,” Russell said. “Every fan in our building, every player on our team, recognizes what this five-foot-eight guy does for us.

"Every day, he’s our hardest-working guy in practice, the hardest-working guy in our games, and it (the suspension) has brought our team closer together.”

More on Metronews.ca