CALGARY, Alberta — The Western Hockey League has handed out 63 games worth of suspensions and $8,750 worth of fines this season, and the Tri-City Americans were one of only three teams that had not been punished by league disciplinarian Rick Doerksen.
That was until Wednesday night.
Tri-City forward Brendan Shinnimin was suspended for one game for his game misconduct at the end of overtime against the Red Deer Rebels. He will miss tonight's game in Edmonton against the Oil Kings.
"In a perfect world, there would be no suspensions or fines," Doerksen said. "But I don't see in the future. As long as there are rules, at some point one will be broken. We are very pleased with the overall conduct of the players and coaches. We have had very few major incidents this year."
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The suspensions and fines since the start of the preseason in September are half of last year -- 127 games and $13,500 -- but most teams still have 20-22 games left to play this season.
Everett and Prince Albert are the only teams in the league that have not received a suspension or a fine.
"We've done a good job of educating the players and the coaches and I think that's why fines are down," Doerksen said. "We think both forms of discipline -- fine or suspension -- that they will get the message and it won't re-occur."
The money from the fines is put in a fund that goes toward player and officials development.
"It's not something we budget for," Doerksen said. "Over the course of the year we collect the money, and once we have the money, we decide what programs to use it for."
Shinnimin's suspension won't likely affect Tri-City (36-12-0-2, 74 points) tonight. The Oil Kings (10-30-4-7, 31 points) are 0-11-0-3 in their last 14 games. They last won Dec. 18, a 3-1 victory over Red Deer.
Tri-City coach Jim Hiller will slide Sergei Drozd up into Shinnimin's spot on the top line with Johnny Lazo and Adam Hughesman.
"We played without Shinny once already, and we won that game (against Portland on Nov. 25)," Hiller said. "It's important that one guy doesn't drive the team."
Hiller is looking for a better performance tonight than his team had Wednesday when it squandered a 3-0 lead against the Rebels and lost 4-3 in a shootout.
"We were playing quite well to start the game and into the second," Hiller said. "Then we took a penalty, made a really poor read on the penalty kill, then they took the play away from us and we weren't able to re-establish ourselves."
Sunday, the Americans have a matinee game against the Calgary Hitmen (32-15-1-1, 66 points) and former Tri-City forward Joel Broda. The Hitmen have won three straight, but have lost their last three games against Tri-City.
NOTE: Saskatoon forward/defenseman Curt Gogol had hand surgery Thursday and is expected to miss up to six weeks. Also out for the Blades are defenseman Teigan Zahn (broken leg) and winger Curtis Hamilton (broken collarbone).