Canucks prospect Cole Cassels gets 10-game OHL ban for check to head; high NHL draft prospect Pavel Zacha sitting for 6

Cassels was signed by the Canucks last season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)
Cassels was signed by the Canucks last season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

Throw a check with more force than is necessary to change the flow of play in the Ontario Hockey League and you'll likely miss some games.

The moment the Oshawa Generals' Cole Cassels drilled Owen Sound defenceman Damir Sharipzyanov in the corner of the offensive zone on Sunday, there was instant recognition a suspension would be coming. On Wednesday, the OHL meted out a 10-game ban to the Vancouver Canucks prospect (and world junior team hopeful) for the check to the head, while also sitting down Sarnia Sting rookie Pavel Zacha for a boarding penalty during a game last weekend vs. the Erie Otters.

The replay shows Cassels beginning to accelerate near the top of the faceoff circle as Sharipzyanov, who did not return to the game, went to the corner to play his puck. I suppose the player safety-friendly play in that instance would be to slow up, cut off the defender's escape routes and pin him against the boards/glass (i.e., the wall), but instead Cassels hammered Sharipzyanov.

Cassels, a dual citizen, played for Team OHL in the Subway Super Series but is also eligible to skate for Team USA. The suspension throws a wrench into those possiblities, since the Generals only have nine games left before the break. It also means the Eastern Conference-leading Generals will have a stretch of five games without their top best attackers, since leading scorer Michael Dal Colle is a strong possibility to play for Team Canada.

At the same time, the Attack are missing a major cog in Sharipzyanov, who a major blueline pillar for a team that counts on its defence to provide tight coverage and fortify their offence.

The common thread between Cassels' suspension and Zacha's six-game sitdown is that the OHL felt it was avoidable. The league's rationale cited, "excessive speed; distance travelled; opportunity to lessen contact; (and) player in vulnerable position." The player who was boarded, Connor Wood; was not injured.

Zacha, a top power forward prospect for the 2015 NHL draft, can rejoin the Sting lineup on Dec. 6. Sarnia managed to win last Sunday while he was awaiting his fate.

The rub is that both incidents started out as what are still generally accepted as hockey plays. Due in part to the speed and size of the players involved, they crossed the line into being dangerous. That's a broader, big picture concern for hockey that probably can't be ameliorated by stiff suspensions.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.