Norths goalkeeper Shaun O’Brien has been suspended for 12 matches after being found guilty on two charges by the Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League judiciary on Thursday night.
This decision rules the veteran shot stopper out of this year’s finals series, which starts on September 1, as the Blues look to claim back the title they lost to Gosford last season.
Norths have the right to appeal the penalty.
O’Brien, a multiple premiership winner with the Blues, faced the disciplinary panel on two fronts following a brawl just before half-time in Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash against Gosford in Newcastle.
He was sent off following a tackle that brought down an opposition player on the top of the circle and for his involvement in the ensuing fight.
Gosford’s Rhiley Carr, who was sin-binned, has re-scheduled his judiciary hearing until Monday but can’t take the field this weekend after being stood down until he appears.
Blues defender Nick Hill, who was also sin-binned, can taken an early guilty plea and miss one game or take his case to the judiciary next week in a bid to reduce his grade one charge.
Norths have the bye this round but Australian Schoolboys representative Eamon Smith is set to replace O’Brien between the posts while Gosford travel to Maitland and face the fifth-placed Rams on Sunday.
Elsewhere in round 20 encounters and Wests will look to keep their top-two aspirations alive when they face University while Souths clash with The Entrance.
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