Nic Dowd

Hurricanes’ Ferland handed match penalty for debatable head shot


The Carolina Hurricanes can hardly afford to lose Micheal Ferland, but that might be the reality they’re living after a bad hit got him ejected from Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Saturday.

Trailing 2-1 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in the second period — and down 1-0 in the best-of-7 series — the Hurricanes forward made his way across the ice to deliver a thundering hit on Capitals forward Nic Dowd, who was reaching for a puck with Ferland tried to obliterate him.

This is where the debate will begin.

Ferland was assessed a match penalty after he appeared to catch Dowd in the head after taking the predatory route to find him entering the Hurricanes zone. That’s how it looked in real time and the basis for the decision to punt Ferland form the game.

Dowd, in turn, left the game to enter concussion protocol but returned before the period ended.

The other half of the debate comes when you slow down the video. Was the initial point of contact to the head? That comes into question upon replay. Dowd was in a vulnerable spot reaching for the puck that had got away from him. He was defenseless on the play and Ferland blew him up anyway but the match penalty for the headshot may be rescinded based on the replay showing that the principle point of contact may not have been the head at all.

The Capitals failed to find the back of the net on their extended power play, which ended early thanks to a T.J. Oshie hooking call.

Ferland scored 17 goals and had 40 points this season, good for a fourth place on the team but hadn’t recorded a point in two and a bit playoff games so far. Dowd doesn’t play many minutes (he played just 6:40 in Game 1) but depth is key in the playoffs. In any case, it was good to see he wasn’t concussed on the play.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, too.

In a head shot that was clearly not debatable, Dougie Hamilton extended his elbow into the noggin of Kuznetsov’s in the same frame. Hamilton was assesed a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play, but given how he threw that elbow into the head, there might be some supplemental discipline waiting for him, too.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Back to Class: St. Cloud’s freshman class is making waves

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday night January 4 as Colorado College takes on Nebraska-Omaha. 

If you had to guess who was leading the WCHA right now without looking, who would you say off the top of your head? Minnesota, Denver and North Dakota always come to mind first, but it’s  the St. Cloud State Huskies in front and they’re doing it thanks to a host of outstanding freshmen talent.

It starts with superb Finnish import Kalle Kossila (pictured) who leads the team with 10 goals. Kossila has been working with fellow freshman star Jonny Brodzinski on the team’s top line centered by the team’s top scorer, senior Drew LeBlanc. Brodzinski and Kossila combined for 17 goals which helps make a lot of sense out of LeBlanc’s 19 assists this season.

Those two aren’t alone in doing their freshman damage as David Morley has provided balance with six goals and six assists. His linemates are a pair of draftees in Nic Dowd (Kings), the team’s second-leading point man, and Ben Hanowski (Penguins).

Western College Hockey’s Chris Dilks pointed out the most fun fact about SCSU’s freshman class right now. Their 24 goals has them outscoring both Alaska-Anchorage (23) and Wisconsin (21) as a team. What’s crazier still about the freshman production is that perhaps the Huskies’ most highly-touted new guy, Joey Benik, has yet to play this year.

Eyes might always stray to following the likes of Minnesota and North Dakota but if the rest of the WCHA isn’t careful, St. Cloud will continue their rise up the rankings.


Buckeye Hjelle: Give it up to Ohio State’s Brady Hjelle who is continuing to shine in goal. The former UMD Bulldog has found a home in Columbus and he’s taken advantage of the new opportunity putting up monster numbers. He hung in well with No. 5 Miami this weekend earning a 1-1 draw on Friday before losing a tough 3-1 game Saturday. You might say he’s on a… Hjelle roll.

From roller hockey to college success: Here’s a story worth reading. USCHO’s Brian Farrell shares the story about Quinnipiac’s Jeremy Langlois who went from playing roller hockey in Tempe, Arizona to being the Bobcats’ leading scorer. Hockey is everywhere in every form. Good on him for not wanting to go party at Arizona State instead.

Michigan State’s Carney retires: Sad story from East Lansing where Spartans defenseman Branden Carney retired from hockey due to fracturing two vertebrae during a team practice in early November.

Colleges repping America: Team USA’s World Junior Championships selection camp will feature 15 NCAA players. Chief amongst them will be Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Flyers), Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau (Flames), North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi (Panthers), BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (Bruins), and Michigan blue liner Jacob Trouba (Jets).

With how hot Gaudreau’s been this year, teaming him up with red hot Habs top prospect Alex Galchenyuk sounds like a good way to create instant offense for America.

(Photo: Bruce Hemmelgarn via CHN)