Ryan Lomberg’s University of Maine hockey career officially came to an end Thursday when he lost his appeal of a 1 1/2-year suspension to UMaine President Susan Hunter.
“Ryan was obviously disappointed,” said Peter J. Cyr, Lomberg’s lawyer. “He wanted to thank [head] coach Red Gendron, his teammates and the fans [for their support]. He really wanted to come back to Maine. He wanted to finish what he started, but he is not able to do that, and that is disappointing.”
Cyr said Lomberg, a right winger, intends to play in the United States Hockey League. He said that since it is an amateur league, he could play for another college team beginning in the 2015-16 season. He would still have two years of eligibility remaining.
Lomberg was convicted of a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and paid a $1,000 fine on Aug. 11 in connection with an altercation that took place off-campus on April 26. He reached a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, which resulted in an assault charge being dismissed.
He had originally been suspended for a year by David Fiacco, the director of the school’s office of community standards, rights and responsibilities, but he appealed the suspension to the code of conduct committee, and the committee expanded the suspension to a year and a half.
Lomberg’s final appeal under university guidelines was heard by Hunter’s designee, Megan Sanders, and the suspension was upheld.
In Hunter’s letter to Cyr and Lomberg on Thursday, Cyr said Hunter indicated that the “code of conduct committee’s findings and sanctions are supported by the preponderance of information presented.”
She also said in the letter that the punishment was appropriate “given the seriousness of the infractions and the extent of the victim’s injuries.”
Cyr said he feels the university is shirking its responsibility in this case and agreed with the punishment recommended by Gendron that he had outlined in his letter last month.
Gendron had proposed that Lomberg be suspended from playing games for the first half of this season and forfeit his scholarship money.
Cyr had previously written that Lomberg had begun taking steps to rehabilitate himself as suggested by the code of conduct committee. Those recommendations can include enrolling in assistance programs such as counseling, anger management or alcohol rehabilitation.
Cyr praised Gendron for his willingness to work with Lomberg and help him deal with his issues.
In the letter, Cyr said Lomberg indicated to him that he “learned a tremendous amount from coach Gendron, he respects coach Gendron and holds him in the highest regard.”
Gendron said Thursday that he couldn’t comment on the situation.
Cyr reiterated on Thursday that he felt the 1 ½-year suspension was excessive and that the university was guilty of an “overreaction.”
“I’m not criticizing the university for punishing him. But a year and a half seems overboard,” said Cyr. “The university didn’t want to be perceived as favoring [a student-athlete] like they may have in the past when they didn’t deal with issues head-on and, to some extent, that went against Ryan in this circumstance.”
According to a recent letter written by Cyr, the incident occurred when some of Lomberg’s friends and fellow teammates became involved in a dispute over a dog at an off-campus party.
“Ryan came to the aid of a female classmate who was being mistreated by another individual,” said Cyr in the letter. The woman was the girlfriend of a teammate, he said.
Two males got involved in the dispute with Lomberg, according to Cyr.
“At one point, Ryan was threatened and provoked by one of the individuals when they said ‘I know the kid who pulled a knife on you,’” said Cyr, referring to an incident that occurred earlier in the year when a knife was allegedly pulled on Lomberg.
Soon after the individual made the statement to Lomberg, the altercation ensued.
“There are two witnesses who stated that the other male threw the first punch and hit Ryan in the face,” said Cyr.
Lomberg retaliated and was accused of knocking the man to the floor and kicking him in the face and the midsection before he was pulled off him. The man suffered a broken nose and a concussion before going to the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor on his own, according to Orono police.
Lomberg had 11 goals and seven assists in 34 games last season after notching seven and seven in 32 games as a freshman.
The Richmond Hill, Ontario, native played for Muskegon in the USHL in 2011-12, leading the team in scoring with 22 goals and 18 assists in 52 games.
Lomberg had his rights traded to the Youngstown Phantoms by the Lincoln Stars. Lincoln had obtained his rights from Muskegon.