When the Albany River Rats resume their first-round playoff series here
tonight, they’ll be without one of their top players.
Defenseman Tim Conboy was suspended for eight games by the AHL on Thursday for his role in a brawl at the end of a 4-0 win over the Phantoms in Wednesday’s opener.
Conboy was given a fighting
major and game misconduct by referee Chris Cozzan under rule 70.6 for leaving the player’s bench to join the altercation, which carries an automatic six-game sentence.
Albany head coach-GM Tom Rowe said Conboy got an additional two games for carrying on in the altercation.
“It wasn’t intentional; it just happened,” Rowe said. “Timmy usually doesn’t do that stuff. He’s hard-nosed, he’s physical, and
everyone knows he’s tough. It’s not the way we like to play. It’s an isolated incident. ”
Conboy’s only previous suspension in a four-year AHL career came this season, an automatic one-game for accumulating three instigator penalties. He was surprised at the length of his sentence.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect that, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not something I’ve done before. I’m going to serve my time and do whatever I need to do to get back and be able to play.”
Philadelphia hosts Game 2
tonight and Game 3 Sunday afternoon at the Wachovia Center. If the Rats’ season ends before Conboy’s suspension is up, it will carry over to the start of the 2008-09 regular season.
AHL vice president Jim Mill, the league’s disciplinarian, was in attendance at Wednesday’s game, and met briefly with Rowe and assistant coach Geordie Kinnear. He called Rowe with the decision late Thursday morning.
“He looked at it, he said, 20 or 30 different times,” Rowe said. “It would be something he’d
really break down and go over with [AHL president] Dave Andrews, but it’s clear-cut. The rule’s in the book, and you’ve got to abide by it. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. That’s what happens when you have games as competitive as we’ve had with those guys.”
The incident began with 28.7 seconds left in the third period, when new Rats defenseman David Cornacchia was drilled into the glass between the players benches by Phantoms forward Triston Grant, drawing a cross-checking minor.
Cornacchia and Grant had a brief tussle before separating, while players from both sides exchanged shoves, and then punches, around them. Conboy wound up raining punches on Philadelphia’s Darroll Powe, who was on his hands and knees.
Trevor Gillies initially got a game misconduct for being the third man in in his fight with Rory Fitzpatrick and was ejected, along with Conboy, but the AHL rescinded that penalty on Thursday, and Gillies is facing no further discipline.
No Philadelphia players were part of the league’s ruling.
Rowe said Conboy was coming out for defenseman Brett Carson on a line change when the melee erupted, but Carson stayed out, leaving Albany with six skaters to the Phantoms’ five. Carson was not penalized.
“It certainly wasn’t intentional,” Conboy said. “It was just a heat-of-the-moment thing. If I had known we had too many guys on the ice, I certainly wouldn’t have gone out there like that.”
Conboy made the trip here and will continue to practice with the team during his suspension. He will be replaced in the lineup by either Brett Bellemore or Josh Engel, rookies who joined the team earlier this month.
“It’s a big loss, especially in our penalty killing and stuff like that,” Albany captain Pat Dwyer said. “But like we’ve done all year, when Tim was up, we’ve got ‘D’ here that can step in and hopefully take some of his minutes and help do his job.”