Fife Flyers have been hit with a major suspension blow on the eve of their play-off quarter-final against Nottingham Panthers.
Star forward Brett Bulmer has been served with a three match ban by the Elite League Department of Player Safety (DOPS) for a hit on Glasgow Clan forward Brendan Connolly during Sunday's league finale at Fife Ice Arena.
Connolly suffered an injury in the collision, which saw Bulmer handed a Game Misconduct penalty for kneeing, triggering an automatic review by the disciplinary body.
The suspension will see Bulmer miss both legs of this weekend's quarter-final against Panthers, and the semi-final in Nottingham should Fife make it through to the final four.
The former NHLer has been in tremendous form for the Kirkcaldy side, and is the club's top scorer with 26 goals and 31 assists this season.
His absence will be sorely felt by an already depleted team that could also be without four key imports due to injury.
In ruling the hit "reckless", DOPS added: "The reason for supplementary discipline is in an attempt to make a body check, Bulmer did not make body to body contact – and instead made knee to knee contact with Connolly.
"Bulmer is considered responsible for the action of his body, approach into the check and to avoid contact which is deemed illegal.
"As the video shows, Bulmer continues to widen his stance to the point where his left leg extends and makes knee on knee contact with no body to body contact.
"There was an apparent injury sustained from the knee on knee contact."