WHL’s first big first suspension handed down

The first big suspension of the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season was handed down last week.

Medicine Hat’s Kale Kessy was slapped with a 12-game suspension for a checking-to-the-head major penalty taken against Lethbridge on Sept. 22.

Kessy, a 20-year-old left wing, caught Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Pilon, who turns 16 later this month and was the third-overall pick in the 2011 bantam draft, with a hit up high. Pilon hasn’t played since and was listed as out indefinitely with an upper-body injury in last week’s injury report.

The suspension, which will cause Kessy to miss one-sixth of the season, is six games longer than any other suspension handed down so far this season. It’s the longest suspension since Tri-City’s Brendan Shinnimin was given a 12-game suspension for a boarding major penalty in October of 2010.

One of the reasons for the severity of the penalty is that Kessy is a repeat offender. Kessy was suspended six previous times for a total of 14 games.

“(Kessy’s history) was definitely part of the equation,” WHL vice president Richard Doerksen told the Medicine Hat News. “We had three determining factors. It was a clear elbow to the head. The opponent was injured on the play and is still injured at this time. Kessy is a repeat offender.”

Kessy was called into the league offices in Calgary and had a 45-minute meeting with the the league brass.

“I respect the league’s decision and what they have done,” Kessy told the News. “At the end of the day, they are the ones making the decisions.

“You just have to be responsible for your actions.”

Medicine Hat coach Shaun Clouston was not surprised by the length of Kessy’s suspension.

“Obviously, it is an indication that the league is very serious about protecting players,” Clouston told the News. “They obviously believe that this was the right call.

“Because this is his fourth suspension in less than a year, there is a repeat-offender category. Kale was aware of that going into the season. It is unfortunate. We will deal with it as best we can and move on.”

Kessy is eligible to play again Oct. 26.

Around the WHL

Red Deer acquired overage defenseman Brandon Underwood from Regina in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. The trade left both teams with four overagers, one over the limit. … Vancouver acquired overage winger Trevor Cheek from Calgary in exchange for a fourth-round bantam pick in 2013 and a fifth-rounder in 2014. That put both teams at three overagers. … Medicine Hat picked up overage center Elgin Pearce from Kootenay for a fifth-round pick in 2013. That got Kootenay down to three overagers and gave Medicine Hat four, though Tigers defenseman Alex Theriau is out another month with a hip injury. … The community-owned Swift Current Broncos announced a profit of $4,238 from last season. That came one year after the small-market team announced a loss of $197,226. … Medicine Hat’s Hunter Shinkaruk was named the WHL Player of the Week. The winger who turns 18 later this month had one goal and five assists as the Tigers went 2-0.

League leaders

Points—Colin Jacobs (Prince George), Nick Buonassisi (Brandon), Nicolas Petan (Portland), Ryan Pulock (Brandon) 9; goals—Mitch Holmberg (Spokane), Sam Fioretti (Moose Jaw) 5; assists—Pulock 7; penalty minutes—Spencer Galbraith (Lethbridge) 23; wins—Patrik Polivka (Victoria), Corbin Boes (Brandon), Chris Dreidger (Calgary) 3; goals against average—Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 0.00; save percentage — Jarry 1.000.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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