War of words won't go away
A war of words stemming from a controversial first-round playoff series between the Barrie Colts and Sudbury Wolves continued to play out on Wednesday.
The Colts issued a statement on Wednesday, expressing the organization's displeasure with some media coverage surrounding the team in recent days.
The Ontario Hockey League slapped three players - Colts forward Zac Rinaldo, and Sudbury Wolves forwards Jared Staal and Kain Allicock - with suspensions following separate incidents in Game 3 of the best-of-seven, first-round series in Barrie on Sunday.
Rinaldo received a 12-game suspension for a hit on Wolves winger Marcus Foligno, while Staal received five games for his "bullying action" on Colts forward Alexander Burmistrov. Allicock also received five games for his attack on Colts captain Stefan Della Rovere late in the game.
The Colts are not pleased that some media outlets reported that an alleged racial slur was made by Della Rovere, provoking Allicock's actions.
"We are concerned that some regional and national media have chosen to report on the incident without any foundation or fact," Colts co-owner Jim Payetta in the statement, adding there is no evidence that any type of racial comment was made.
"It is unfortunate that some sensationalism has been applied to the incident in question," Payetta said. "We are talking about a young man's reputation and career here."
The team has laid the matter to rest, Payetta added.
"The league has ruled on the issues of the game, resulting in suspensions to Staal and Allicock of Sudbury and our player, Zac Rinaldo," he said. "We accept the league's rulings and now want to focus on the rest of the series and the rest of the playoffs."
Game 4 goes Wednesday in Sudbury, and the Colts say they won't back down from the Wolves should things get chippy - as has been the case throughout much of the series.
"We've got to stick up for each other," Della Rovere said. "Hopefully nothing bad occurs."
Barrie's last trip to the Nickel City on Saturday turned ugly, with a mini bench-clearing brawl breaking out immediately following Barrie's 2-1 win. Both teams were fined undisclosed amounts.
Barrie head coach Marty Williamson doesn't plan to keep his players stapled to the bench.
"We're going to protect each other," he said. "Both teams are obviously going to look after themselves."
Barrie leads the series 3-0 and can close things out with a win on Wednesday.