Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Rau not innocent on hit, but one-game suspension wasn't a no-brainer

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey, Gophers postgame, Gophers roster moves, WCHA news Updated: February 11, 2012 - 2:27 PM

My first reaction last night, when the NBC Sports Network broadcasters talked about supplemental discipline to Gophers forward Kyle Rau was, they really don't know what they are talking about. Maybe they are just trying to add a little drama to their telecast.

But they were right. The WCHA came down with a one-game suspension.

So the question is why?

I am not condoning Kyle Rau's play. It should have been a penalty. And with college hockey's emphasis on hits from behind, hits to the head and dangerous plays this season, I can see it being a major penalty and a game misconduct.

But an extra game? Didn't see that. Not at all.

I know Kyle Rau. He doesn't look like he could hurt anyone. He is 5-8, 172. But he likes to play physical. Says when he hits guys -- even those much bigger than him -- it gets him more into the game.

He has not had a major penalty this season until Friday. He is not a dirty player. Clearly, this one time he hit Jason Zucker along the boards after the Wild prospect had gotten rid of the puck. Rau  was called for boarding.

Don't think he was trying to hurt Zucker, but he did. Zucker lay on his stomach for the longest time, was finally turned over and gingerly walked to the dressing room with help.

Zucker didn't see Rau coming, but it seems the injury was caused by Zucker going backward into the boards. Rau didn't hit him in the back. It was a hit to the upper chest and maybe Zucker's head. Hard to tell. Wish I could see a close-up.

Rau got a one-game suspension because ...

College hockey is trying to clean up the game

Zucker was hurt and missed the rest of the game ... and probably will miss tonight's game

And, just maybe, the referees thought the Gophers were trying to rough Zucker up. In the first period, Nick Bjugstad cut Zucker's chin with a high stick. Looked unintentional, but Zucker was bleeding and left the bench for medical attention.

No doubt the referees noted that in their game report to league officials.

My point is, if Zucker gets up and continues to play, if there is no split chin, Rau doesn't get an extra game.

Rau has a real high hockey IQ, his coaches say, he will learn from this.

And he probably feels bad for Zucker, who was the captain for the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships. How odd that Bjugstad and Rau, two of his teammates, were the ones to hurt him twice on Friday.

* The two extra players the Gophers took with them to DU were forward Tom Serratore and defenseman Chris Student. Serratore will undoubtedly be in the lineup tonight in Rau's place.

 

 

 

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