The University of North Dakota, which announced last week that it was suspending all four of its team captains stemming from a Sept. 15 party, unveiled additional one-game suspensions for more players on Friday.
Connor Gaarder, Andrew Panzarella and Stephane Pattyn will all be suspended for UND’s game against the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Oct. 20, for reasons related to the same party. Additionally, Danny Kristo, one of the already-suspended captains, will also miss the Oct. 20 game with an additional suspension for a violation of team rules not related to the team party. Brendan O’Donnell, a sophomore forward, also received a one-game suspension for the same reasons. He will serve his during the Oct. 19 game.
Got all that?
Unlike the announcement from Tuesday, this press release did not include comments from athletic director Brian Faison and Dave Hakstol, other than a reiteration that ”measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the University or local and state authorities.”
According to the release, neither Faison nor Hakstol will comment further on the matters.
There was some criticism from fans and alumni connected to the athletics department’s actions in response to the party, particularly Faison’s released statement about the suspensions. Some of the loudest criticism came from former UND hockey player and sometimes NHLer Mike Commodore. He has since deleted his more acerbic tweets which were directed more at Faison for cracking down so hard for what Commodore called a “rookie party.”
He did however leave this note for the UND AD:
Can someone at @undsports let AD Brian Faison know that he is the Athletic Director not a Head Coach at the University of North Dakota.
— Mike Commodore (@commie22) September 18, 2012
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but head coach Dave Hakstol echoed the AD’s comments in the press release for the initial suspensions.
Clearly this is a bit of a black eye for a program that has had numerous alcohol-related run-ins in the past. If this is the school putting its foot down, it’s a very good thing in this more sensitive climate in the wake of the Boston University investigation as covered on United States of Hockey earlier in the week.
The more that comes out, the worse this looks, and the reiteration that authorities could become involved increases the uneasiness.
North Dakota is expected to have a solid lineup, specifically due to returnees Andrew MacWilliam, Kristo and Corban Knight (now all suspended for the first game), as well as a healthy Rocco Grimaldi who is getting a do-over on his freshman season after undergoing surgery after just two games played last year. Stumbling out of the blocks with suspensions and a fair amount of negative publicity is not the way Hakstol wanted to start the season for what should be a national title contender.
Before everyone starts piling on North Dakota, there was another party-related incident that came to light last week.
The University of Minnesota has lost soon-to-be 21-year-old freshman Connor Reilly for the entire 2012-13 season after the forward sustained a serious knee injury, reportedly at a team party.
Reilly tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in an off-ice fall Saturday at a team party, according to two sources close to the situation. The official release from the University of Minnesota said Reilly “suffered the injury after he slipped and fell awkwardly over the weekend.” Reilly will undergo surgery soon.
It would only be speculation to suggest Reilly was intoxicated at the time of the injury, though the setting certainly increases the scrutiny. Head coach Don Lucia did not elaborate with Augustovitz on the nature of how the injury occurred or if the school was investigating. Additionally, the school’s press release made no mention of the party.
Regardless, a player is lost for the season in an off-ice injury, which is always a tough pill to swallow. Connor Reilly, whose twin brother Ryan and younger brother Mike are both freshmen for the Gophers, was expected to be more of a depth player this year, but now leaves Minnesota with 14 forwards. Other injuries could prove significantly detrimental for a team poised for a big year.
College hockey coaches are probably begging the hockey gods to bring the season sooner than later. It’s been a rough week.