Russian, American suspended ahead of world junior quarter-finals
Forwad Valeri Nichushkin, defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere barred for separate incidents
Russia and the United States will be minus at least one player each for Wednesday’s quarter-finals at the world junior hockey championship.
Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin will sit one game after being assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking Canadian defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon from behind in the first period of Monday’s 4-1 loss in Ufa, Russia.
American defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere will miss a Czech Republic matchup after the International Ice Hockey Federation suspended him one game for forcefully driving his stick between the legs of Slovakia’s Matus Matis, striking him in the groin area, in the first period of a 9-3 victory on Monday.
Nichushkin’s penalty proved costly in Monday’s contest as Canada scored twice on the ensuing power play.
The hit against Wotherspoon opened a cut on the Canadian blue-liner’s right cheek he'd sustained earlier in the game. He left the team’s bench to get seven stitches in his cheek but returned for the second period.
According to the IIHF’s disciplinary panel, Wotherspoon was in control of the puck as Nichushkin approached him from behind and delivered a hard check with his arms and shoulders directly to the back of his opponent.
Once Nichushkin made contact, the panel determined, his arms carried forward and up onto the head and neck area, the force driving Wotherspoon’s head into the boards and glass.
Canada earned a bye to Thursday’s semifinals with the win and will face the winner of the Czech Republic/United States contest (4 a.m. ET). Russia will need a win over Switzerland (8 a.m. ET) to advance to the other semifinal versus defending world junior champion Sweden.
Gostisbehere’s infraction also occurred in the first period Monday, causing Matis to fall to the ice, but he later returned to the game.
Like Nichushkin, Gostisbehere was given a five-minute major and game misconduct.
The disciplinary panel, in conjunction with video footage and the referees’ written and verbal reports, determined Gostisbehere’s actions were dangerous to the safety of Matis but also unnecessary and avoidable.