Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna on Friday defended his Thursday decision to suspend University of Maine right winger Joey Diamond, explaining that Diamond’s actions against Boston University goalie Kieran Millan warranted the one-game suspension.
Diamond is the first player suspended by Hockey East since November 2007.
Bertagna also admitted several contact-to-the head infractions in the Maine-Boston University series last weekend were “undercalled” by referees Tim Benedetto and Jack Millea.
But Bertagna said he determined Diamond’s “slu-footing” of Millan in the first period of Friday’s game was the only “suspendable” offense.
Slu-footing is the term used to describe a player deliberately kicking the skates out from under an opponent, causing the opponent to fall to the ice.
Videotape replays reveal Diamond did just that.
However, Diamond was only assessed a two-minute minor by the referees for hitting after the whistle.
Bertagna said he heard from several people about the incident over the weekend, although he said protocol prevents him from revealing the sources.
He eventually received a tape of the incident on Wednesday and utilized his authority to dish out supplemental discipline to Diamond. He conferred with his three-member executive committee composed of athletic directors from the University of Massachusetts, Northeastern and Merrimack and they agreed with his suspension.
“Kicking a goalie’s skates out is a potentially dangerous play. The whistle had blown so the players had their guards down,” said Bertagna.
He said the referees told him they didn’t see the actual infraction. The skirmish after the whistle apparently led to the hitting after the whistle penalty.
Diamond leads Maine in penalty minutes with 72, while defenseman Mark Nemec is second with 37.
Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe was the last player to be suspended by Hockey East when he was assessed a one-game suspension for butt-ending in a game against Merrimack on Nov. 9, 2007. That penalty wasn’t called, but the replay confirmed it.
Bertagna requested the video clip of the Diamond infraction, and Maine coach Tim Whitehead sent it to him. Whitehead had also sent him a clip with several contact-to-the head infractions, including the one that earned Nemec a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Four other clips showed BU players landing blows to the heads of Maine players, but just one resulted in a penalty, a two-minute minor on Alex Chiasson for a shot to the head of Maine’s Tanner House.
“I’ve spoken to the referees,” said Bertagna. “They could have been called differently.”
The referees were not disciplined.
Whitehead said he preferred not to comment on the suspension.
Bertagna said the league has been “lax” in protecting goalies and that is one of its prime points of emphasis along with contact-to-the-head infractions.