Giants ace Clark hit by six-game ban
The fall-out from the Belfast Giants defeat in Sheffield last Friday continued last night when the Elite League's disciplinary committee hit Aaron Clarke with a six game suspension, ruling him out for the rest of 2011,
Clarke was given a match penalty in the immediate aftermath of Jeff Legue's controversial overtime winner, which television replays showed was clearly offside and shouldn't have stood — leading to Giants protests.
He has now been found guilty of physical abuse against an official — despite the Giants being adamant that the contact was purely accidental — which carries a minimum ban of six games and under league rules there is no opportunity to appeal.
A league statement said: “The disciplinary committee have upheld the match penalty and implemented the minimum tariff as per Elite League suspension guidelines.”
The ruling states: “Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner, which physical force is applied without intent to injure, shall be automatically suspended for not less than six games.”
Already without top scorer Benoit Doucet for the remainder of the season, coach Doug Christiansen must now prepare for Saturday night's meeting with the Dundee Stars at the Odyssey without five players, with Robert Dowd, James Hutchinson and Darryl Lloyd also absent.
“The toughest part of the last three weeks, when we have lost Benoit Doucet to injury and a game in Sheffield is that the two situations that were created could have been avoided,” said Christiansen.
“These things bring emotional responses, but there is nothing we can do now. To focus on the past would only hurt our team even more.
“We have to focus on Saturday's game at home to Dundee and fight against the adversity that we're facing.”