Early in the first period of Saturday's game between the Wilkes/Barre Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, with the Penguins down 2-0, Penguins winger Kael Mouillierat skated past Phantoms winger Nick Cousins and smashed him in the head with an elbow. I described it on this site yesterday as a "drive-by" elbow, and it looked very scary, as Cousins fell to the ice on all fours and stayed down for several seconds. The hit was originally whistled as a minor penalty for elbowing.
I remember thinking several things at the time I saw this hit.
1. This won't end well. (It didn't, as the hit was immediately challenged by the other Phantoms and eventually led to a fight between Penguins defenseman Steve Olesky and Phantoms winger Petr Straka.)
2. I hope Cousins is OK. (Turns out he seemed OK enough to continue playing, as he would assist on the ensuing PP goal to make the game 3-0 Lehigh Valley and score a goal of his own at the start of the third to turn a 5-3 WBS lead into 5-4.)
3. Mouillierat will probably get a call from the league office for that one.
That third bullet point was addressed this afternoon, as the AHL has suspended Mouillierat for two games. The official press release (found here) states that Mouillierat was suspended for "an illegal check to the head of an opponent...under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline". Per the AHL Rule Book (found here), Rule 28.1 reads as follows:
"In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these rules, the President may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, Exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, goalkeeper, Trainer, Manager, Coach or non-playing Club personnel or Club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.
If an investigation is requested by a Club, it must be initiated within twenty-four (24) hours following the completion of the game in which the incident occurred. In addition, teams are required to fill out a request for supplemental discipline form along with a two hundred fifty dollar ($250) deposit refundable if further action is taken by the League."
I find it interesting that a franchise can request an investigation into on-ice incidents if they fill out a form and pay a possibly refundable $250 deposit, but I digress.
Having seen the hit live, and recalling the thoughts that I articulated above, I think two games is fair for this. It certainly looked scary from my vantage point, as well as unnecessary. Whether the intent was to fire up his teammates being down 2-0 or whatever, Cousins could have been seriously injured as a result of this hit, and he is fortunate to not be injured.
Mouillierat will now miss WBS's home and home series this weekend against Springfield.