The Western Hockey League took the rare step of suspending Spokane Chiefs forward Adam Helewka for six games following an altercation on the ice after Saturday’s loss to the Tri-City Americans.
Several members of both teams squared off following the Chiefs’ 4-3 loss on Saturday. The league’s comment simply states that an “incident occurred after the final buzzer” and that an “opponent was injured as a result of the actions.”
Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said the game ended with a lot of players pushing and shoving and he made it clear that he wasn’t happy about losing Helewka for six games.
“The severity of the supsension for me is quite shocking,” Nachbaur said. “But at the end of the day, they decide and we have to march on.”
Nachbaur said a lot of players were involved in a scrum that “erupted into an incident between Adam and I think it was (Parker) Wotherspoon,” he said.
Asked if he knew the extent of Wotherspoon’s injury, Nachbaur said he didn’t know.
“I can only tell you what I saw. (Weatherspoon) had a cut on his forehead. Whether that was inflicted by Adam or (Wotherspoon’s) helmet, I don’t know. Adam got a five-minute major for fighting. The league investigated and handed down a six-game suspension.”
The league also fined the Chiefs $1,000 for the incident.
Helewka has been the Chiefs’ best offensive player since he returned in late October after he was released from his amateur tryout agreement with the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.
Helewka was selected in the fourth round of the NHL draft (106th overall) last June by the Sharks and attended the Sharks’ training camp.
Despite missing 12 games, Helewka leads the team with 17 goals. He’s second on the team with 29 points. Helewka will not be able to return until the Jan. 2 game at Portland.
Helewka’s suspension comes at a time when the team is already without forward Dominic Zwerger (11 goals, 22 points) who is representing his home country of Austria until Saturday as part of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
And the team is about to lose forward Nik Anderson (5 goals, 13 points) as he and backup goalie Lasse Petersen represent Denmark as part of the same junior championship from December 26 to January 5 in Helsinki, Finland.
In addition, defenseman Evan Fiala (3 goals, 8 points) remains out indefinitely with an injury. The Chiefs (16-12-2-1) next play Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at home against Everett.
“It really changes the dynamics of our team, for our power plays, penalty kills and lines,” Nachbaur said. “Everything is unknown because a lot of players have not played in those situations.”
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