The Peterborough Examiner
Beck avoids suspension for head check
Gauvreau returns to lineup from suspension; Spearing back skating in practices but return to play uncertain
Owen Beck will not be suspended for his checking to the head major penalty in Game 2 of the OHL Championship Series.
The Peterborough Petes also had a welcome sight with captain Shawn Spearing on the ice for Monday’s morning skate ahead of Game 3 on Monday night at the Memorial Centre. The best-of-seven series was tied 1-1 after the opening two games in London.
Beck was in the lineup Monday along with Cam Gauvreau who returns from serving a four-game suspension giving the Petes 18 skaters for the first time in the series. Spearing, who is skating with his jaw wired shut after surgery to repair a broken jaw, was not expected to play Monday, but has not been ruled out of the series.
Beck was ejected from Game 2 in the second period after delivering a hit on Knights forward Denver Barkey, which Rogers colour commentator Rick Doyle said was an elbow to the head.
Petes GM Mike Oke said the OHL reviewed the play and deemed no further discipline was necessary. Barkey was shaken up on the play but finished the game.
Petes coach Rob Wilson said in a postgame news conference he thought it was a clean hit and Oke said that was their opinion all along.
“I think it was a hard check, but the league definitely reminded us they take contact up in the upper areas very seriously and to definitely remind players to be mindful when they are in those situations,” Oke said.
When asked about the hit after Game 2, Knights head coach Dale Hunter said, “The ref called it right. It was a head shot. It happens. It happens in every league, the NHL and stuff, and the league always deals with it.”
With forwards Jonathan Melee and Tommy Purdeller expected to miss the series with a broken heel and broken fibula, respectively, and Spearing out, the Petes could ill afford to lose Beck. The Knights have been playing without No. 1 goalie Brett Brochu and forward Jacob Julien missed Game 2 to illness.
“Both us and London are facing adversity,” said Oke. “They have some significant players missing from their lineup and I’m certain they have some bumps and bruises as all teams do. We’re excited to be back home in our rink and there is definitely a buzz around the community.”
Spearing had surgery Thursday to repair a broken jaw sustained when he blocked a shot with his face in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. While the Petes completed the game with a 3-2 victory, Spearing was at a North Bay hospital getting treatment. He rejoined the team on Saturday to participate in warm-up.
“It meant the world,” said Spearing, who had to conduct an interview with The Examiner by text as it is difficult for him to talk, of skating with his teammates.
“This isn’t a fun injury, but being out there with the boys I’m having fun.”
When asked if he thinks he can play in this series, Spearing stated, “We’ll see what happens. It’s my last season and the final, so I definitely want to make a push at returning.
“I’ll battle to the end. I’ve loved my five years in Peterborough and I’ll do anything I can to cap those five years with a championship.”
When asked how difficult it has been to watch, Spearing mumbled a one-word answer, “Very.”
He had to be convinced by Petes staff to go to the hospital in Game 7 as he didn’t want to leave with his team’s season on the line.
“It sucked,” typed Spearing. “The boys getting the win made me feel a lot better. I wanted to be out there, but, hopefully, there is one more trophy I can be out there for.”
Note Petes forward Tucker Robertson was named Monday as the OHL player of the week after two goals and two assists, including the game winner, in Saturday’s Game 2, while Petes goalie Michael Simpson was named as the OHL goaltender of the week for helping the Petes win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the North Bay Battalion and a 51-save performance against the London Knights on Saturday.