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Franke blasts CHL, Rush after Menei's return

The Komets were irate to find out that the Rapid City Rush's Ryan Menei would be in the lineup Friday for Game 4 of the Turner Conference semifinals, going so far as to accuse the Rush of falsifying medical documents and the league of stacking things against Fort Wayne.

"I think this is a travesty," Fort Wayne general manager David Franke said, as his team prepared to take on the Rush at Memorial Coliseum. "Their player was hurt and they squealed to the league that he would be out a long period of time. They cried to the league office, and the league office bought it."

The defending-champion Rush led the best-of-five series 2-1 heading into Friday night.

Menei, who had a hat trick in the Rush's 5-2 victory in Game 1, was knocked out of Game 2, a 4-3 Rush victory Saturday, on a blindside hit by Sean O'Connor. No penalty was called on that play, which gave Menei a concussion. Later in the game, O'Connor was boarded from behind by Les Reaney, who did get a major penalty but only a fine from the league.

O'Connor was suspended three games, and the Komets were forced to play one man short of a full lineup the remainder of the series.

"I have a player in Sean O'Connor who got hurt by Les Reaney, and that guy got a $150 fine," Franke said. "Then they suspend O'Connor six games -- it was only three because this is the playoffs -- but even if we had O'Connor, he wouldn't be able to play right now because of concussion-like symptoms.

"Their coach (Joe Ferras), he's a big mouth, a whiner and a complainer. And he's a liar. Obviously, the medical records were falsified. The standard procedure for the Komets and the league is that if a player has concussion-like symptoms, he cannot play for a minimum of seven days."

In determining its punishment for O'Connor, the CHL said it was awaiting medical records to make a decision, implying the length of suspension was on the belief Menei would be out for at least Games 3 -- a 5-4 overtime Komets victory -- and Game 4.

Menei, however, flew to Fort Wayne on Thursday and told InsideDakotaSports.com he was feeling "awesome."

"Something really stinks about this," said Franke, whose team won the last three IHL championships. "We're infuriated. ... The league needs to review its hockey operations department. This was wrong and I have a long memory. I won't forget this. We will address it this summer. We have to beat Rapid City and the league in this series? The league was intimidated and clearly its ruling was based on medical information that was falsified."

The CHL had no immediate comment on Menei's return, other than to say O'Connor's suspension wouldn't change.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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