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AHL suspends Steve Downie for 20 games for slashing an official

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Steve Downie is in trouble again.

The right-winger with the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals has been suspended 20 games for slashing an official with his stick, the league said Thursday.

The incident occurred late in the third period of a Feb. 28 game against the Hershey Bears. Downie, 21, was assessed a game misconduct and suspended indefinitely by the league.

Downie, who helped Canada win two world junior hockey championships, has already served three games of the suspension. He is eligible to return to the Norfolk lineup on April 11 but the Admirals are likely to miss the playoffs.

A former first-round draft of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005, Downie was given a 20-game suspension from the NHL for a hit on Dean McAmmond, then of the Ottawa Senators, in 2007.

He was a fan favourite in Windsor, Ont., when he played for the OHL's Spitfires until a much publicized run-in with teammate Akim Aliu led to suspensions to both players and coach Moe Mantha, who was ultimately fired. Downie left the club and demanded to be traded and was dealt to the Peterborough Petes.

Downie was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in November.

The Lightning issued a release Tuesday saying they support the Admirals in appealing Downie's suspension.

"To clarify public reports, the player struck the official (during the course of play) with the follow through of his stick after winning a face-off against Hershey's Andrew Joudrey," the release said.

In 22 games with Norfolk this season Downie has eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points plus 107 penalty minutes.


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