SASKATOON, Sask. — Taylor Leier's Memorial Cup tournament is over and so is Dalton Thrower's.
When Thrower, the Saskatoon Blades defenceman, kayoed Leier with a bodycheck on Wednesday, the gut reaction was that there would be a suspension. Sure enough, the National Hockey League hockey operations department, which handles these matters at the MasterCard Memorial Cup, has suspended the 19-year-old Thrower for the rest of the tournament. While no penalty was whistled, it looked like a textbook example of the type of play all three leagues within the Canadian Hockey League have tried to phase out of junior hockey.
The ban means Thrower will miss the Blades-London Knights sudden-death tiebreaker on Thursday (8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. MT, Sportsnet/TVA Sports, BTN livechat). Winterhawks coach Travis Green said Leier has brain injury-like symptoms. The 18-year-old Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, who was one of Portland's brightest performers during a tournament in his hometown, did not require an overnight hospital stay.
"I don't have to keep watching it again," Green said. "It's pretty obvious when a player is out before he hits the ice. It's basically a blow to the head."
Blades coach-GM Lorne Molleken said following the game that Thrower's principal point of contact was Leier's chest area.
"Thrower's played extremely well in this tournament. He's a physical player. We all have different opinions about the hit."
Thrower's absence hurts the Blades' depth on the blueline. Molleken will likely have to give more ice time to his youngest defenceman, 16-year-old Nelson Nogier.
"Thrower plays on our power play, he plays in our top four," Molleken said. "If he's not in our lineup it will be a chance for young Nelson Nogier to step in [to a larger role]. Kyle Schmidt will step in."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.