Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bogo's status uncertain

Jets defenceman unable to finish game after taking high hit

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There will be some anxious hours until the Winnipeg Jets next take the ice, Monday against the Buffalo Sabres, wondering if one of their key players will be able to continue this season.

Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian was unable to finish Saturday's afternoon game at the MTS Centre against the New York Islanders.

Bogosian was felled early in the second period by a shoulder-to-head check from New York's Kyle Okposo.

Referees Justin St. Pierre and Kevin Pollock elected to call no penalty on the lifting blow to the head.

The alternate outcome will never be known, but while the Jets might have been enjoying a five-minute power play, the Islanders tallied their third goal of the game to take a 3-1 lead.

Bogosian, who had scored his fifth goal of the season in the first period, left the game briefly after the check for some attention from the Jets' medical staff, even retreated to the locker-room for a short period, but was back on the ice before the period was over.

He even confronted Okposo -- the pair received two minutes each for roughing at 18:04 of the period -- and on their way to and inside the penalty box, there was a heated debate between the two.

It's possible Okposo may have been trying to perfect his argument in favour of the check's legality, something he may yet have to do before the NHL's department of player safety.

It was unknown Saturday night if the league would call a hearing on the check, but the league does examine all plays, whether penalized or not.

If there is no further discpline for the play, the explanation from the league's player-safety department might qualify as a logistical pretzel, given the similarity to the rising head check earlier in the week by Montreal's Ryan White that drew a five-game suspension.

Bogosian returned for the third period and continued to throw his weight around, but he did not make it to the end of the third period, finishing the game with 18 minutes 32 seconds of playing time.

After the game, Bogosian's coach and teammates confirmed that he was not feeling right as the afternoon wore on.

"Those are always difficult because you never know how someone feels after they get... I'm sure if he... I know he did not feel great by the middle of the third period so he made the right decision," said teammate Ron Hainsey.

Hainsey said he did not see the check and wouldn't comment on it.

"I did not. I know he got hit in the head," he said.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd also said he did not witness the blow.

"I did not so I can't really comment on it," Ladd said. "But Bogo was pretty pissed, so it couldn't have been a great hit."

Jets coach Claude Noel said he caught a glimpse of a replay, but he too refrained from judgment on the check.

"I didn't really see the hit," he said. "I saw a little bit of it on the replay but I don't have a comment on the replay.

"He's day-to-day. He's going to get evaluated. We'll see how he's doing then."

Later, it proved to be Okposo's lucky day. To go with his two assists, he also escaped without penalty at 7:40 of the third period when he slew-footed Winnipeg winger Blake Wheeler in the Jets' zone, leaving Wheeler briefly shaken.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2013 B2

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