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Kassian suspended for Canada's next game at WJC

by Mike G. Morreale /
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Canadian National Junior Team will be forced to carry on without the services of power forward Zack Kassian for its next game.
Kassian, whose specialty is providing a physical element for his team, was issued a match penalty and with it, a one-game suspension, for an illegal hit in the second period of Canada's 7-2 victory against the Czech Republic in preliminary-round action at the 2011 World Junior Championship on Tuesday at HSBC Arena.
Kassian was ejected at 5:53 of the second period for an apparent illegal hit to the chin. He'll sit out Wednesday's game against Norway, per IIHF rules. Tournament disciplinarian Dan Marouelli will have 24 hours to determine whether supplementary disciplinary is warranted.
"I was backchecking hard and it happened really fast," Kassian told reporters after the game. "He seemed to dump the puck in and I was just finishing my check. Everything happened so fast. I was brought here to be physical and I wanted to stay physical and stay disciplined. I thought I'd been doing that so far … my hands were down. I just hope he's all right; I'm hearing he's OK, so that's a good feeling. We now just have to move forward.
"It's out of my hands from here. Hopefully it's just that one game."
According to the IIHF, Marouelli reviewed Kassian's hit on video during the second intermission and said he will discuss the situation with game officials to collect more information. Marouelli said he will "most likely not need the full 24-hour time period to make a ruling."
Only Marouelli can make a final decision.
"It really doesn't matter what I think; I have no input into it," Canada coach Dave Cameron said. "Whatever protocol is in place for this will take place and whatever happens, happens."
Kassian, 19, was ejected after putting his shoulder into the chest of unsuspecting Czech forward Petr Senkerik at the Canada blue line. Senkerik remained motionless on the ice for several minutes before being taken off on a stretcher. Senkerik looked to be conscious as he left the ice and  reportedly was reaching for his nose in the tunnel leading off the ice.
"Petr was awake, so we were happy about that," Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Fischer said. "It was a scary moment, especially the way he left the ice. He was awake and he was communicating, so he'll get some further evaluations and we'll have an update (Wednesday). The plan would probably be to bring him to the hospital."
Fischer wouldn't assess the hit until after watching a replay.
"I haven't seen the replay and it was in a scrum," he said. "Petr passed the puck and then he certainly was hit. Where exactly the hit was, and how he landed … I'll have to see the replay."
While playing for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires last season, Kassian was suspended 20 games following an open-ice hit on Barrie Colts forward Matt Kennedy.
Whatever the penalty might be, Kassian feels it would be unfair to change the style of play that got him this far in his career, including his spot as the 13th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft by the Sabres.
"I can't change," he said. "That's one of the reasons I made this team -- to play physical. But it's over with now and we'll see what my penalty is."

Marcus Foligno knows others now will have to pick it up in the absence of Kassian. Foligno and Kassian had been on the same line, centered by Ryan Johansen.
"I was backchecking and saw it at the last second and it looked like a clean hit," Foligno said. "Zack came in hard. He's a big boy, so if he hits guys who are a little smaller, he's going to hurt guys."
Kassian is listed at 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds. Senkerik,19, is 6-foot and 187 pounds.
Cameron told Kassian to keep his head up when he saw him in the locker room after the game.
"I worked so hard to make the team and when you're sitting out a game it's not fun," Kassian said. "You want to be in the battle with your teammates. Nothing I can do know except move forward."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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