The SJHL dropped the ban-hammer hard on the Estevan Bruins over the weekend, adding three players to a suspended list that already included Jayden Davis following his hit on Charles Martin against Notre Dame.
Austin King-Cunningham, Bryce Platt, and Tristyn DeRoose were each suspended two games for infractions against Weyburn on Friday, January 18. All three served the first game of the suspension against Weyburn the next night.
For Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood, there was blame to go around after the bans were handed down.
"Some of it was understandable, some it was a little bit of a head-scratcher," Lewgood said of the suspensions. "At the end of the day, we've got to be more disciplined. We have to take care of what we can control and not put ourselves in a position to have those decisions made."
King-Cunningham's suspension came following a cross-check to the head/throat area of Red Wings forward Jacob Piller. AS King-Cunningham skated up the ice early in the first, Piller stepped up to try to hit him. King-Cunningham's extended stick appeared to knock Piller unconscious, and he left the game and did not return.
UPDATE: Under the accumulation rules of junior-A, King-Cunningham was suspended two additional games, bringing his total to four. Under those rules, a player who earns five major penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, or instigating, will receive a suspension. The league retroactively assesed him a check to the head penalty for the hit on Piller, bringing his total to five.
Platt's suspension came off a hit which earned him 14 minutes in penalties when he caught Red Wing defenseman Jevon Schwean hard just in front of the Bruins bench. The hit earned him a two-game ban for charging.
DeRoose, meanwhile, got into a shoving match in front of the Red Wings net that ended with him giving a light cross check to Garrett Szeremley. Szeremley was not injured or even seemingly slowed down by the shot, but DeRoose was handed a five-minute major, and subsequently a two-game suspension.
The Bruins won the first game without three of their top forwards and a top-six defenseman. Their younger forwards made the most of their increased ice time.
"In a 58-game regular season, you've got to have depth," Lewgood said. "Our young players are going to be very good players at this level. Here in January you're starting to see those guys turn a corner, guys like Ryder Pierson, Isaiah Thomas, Eddie Gallagher, Tyson Manz, these guys played excellent weekend. We're quite excited about our depth and with those other guys out of the lineup we have to stay the course."
The Bruins next game will be against the Melfort Mustangs on Friday, January 25, which will be the last game for all four suspended players. Davis, DeRoose, Platt, and King-Cunningham are all eligible to return on Saturday, January 26 when the Bruins host Nipawin.