Ross Johnston gets no chance of parole for his 15-game suspension for breaking Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Brian Lovell’s jaw with his stick more than a month ago.
The team announced on Tuesday that their appeal of Johnston’s suspension had been rejected by an arbitrator, meaning Johnston is eligible to return as scheduled March 26 for game three of the Wildcats’ first round series against the Victoriaville Tigres.
Lovell hasn’t played since the incident, and neither has Johnston, who has already served 13 games of his 15-gamer. The appeal was placed March 1, when Johnston had already served four games.
“We knew that under league rules the suspension would be largely served before we receive a decision on the request for review,” Wildcats governor Jean Brousseau said in the team’s press release. “However, we pursued the matter because we support Ross and believed that it offered an opportunity to more appropriately address an unorthodox hockey situation and to enhance player safety. We are respectfully disappointed in the decision to uphold the suspension.”
[Related: Johnston suspended for two-handed swing]
The Moncton Wildcats believe that both the appeal process and the rules with respect to sticks becoming lodged in the boards need to be re-evaluated, continued the release.
A source within the organization said that they wanted to have Johnston in the lineup for the beginning of the playoffs.
The Wildcats finished the season in sixth place with a 42-23-2-1 record. Johnston had 27 points, including 12 goals, in 53 games this season.
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