By Chris Block
On Monday, the AHL announced its decision to suspend Rockford IceHogs third-year defenseman Shawn Lalonde 3 games for his actions in last Friday (Nov 16) night’s game against the Houston Aeros in Rockford.
Lalonde’s suspension is result of an illegal check to the head on Aeros’ defenseman Steven Kampfer. The incident took place at 9:40 of the second period in Friday night’s game while the Aeros were on the power play.
There was no penalty called on the play by either of the two referees, Joe Sullivan and Jean Hebert.
The hit temporarily knocked Kampfer unconscious and Kampfer was eventually stretchered off the ice and taken to a Rockford hospital where he was evaluated and released the next day.
On the play, Kampfer slipped behind IceHogs defenseman Dylan Olsen and Lalonde as Houston was changing personnel after Rockford had cleared their defensive zone and dumped the puck down towards the Houston goal.
Aeros defenseman Brian Connelly retreated and spotted Kampfer at the IceHogs’ blue line. Connelly then fired a 115 foot pass from the Houston goal line to Kampfer, camped out and ready for entry into the IceHogs’ zone.
Had Kampfer not bobbled the pass and had to stop to retrieve the fumbled puck, he would have gone in unabated for a breakaway on Carter Hutton. The mishandling of the pass allowed Lalonde and Olsen to get back into the play, however.
With Olsen in hot pursuit from behind coming down the right circle, Shawn Lalonde lined up Kampfer for a big check as Kampfer was ready to attempt his scoring chance on Hutton.
Lalonde, approaching Kampfer diagonally from the slot, caught Kampfer clean in the head with his right elbow, immediately knocking the former Michigan Wolverine unconscious.
Kampfer was unresponsive and still unconscious when first attended to. When he came to he complained to the Aeros trainer that his neck was bothering him. Taking all precautions, Kampfer was carefully placed on a backboard and hauled away on the stretcher.
Steven Kampfer, 24, played in 147 games at the University of Michigan (2006-10) and helped the Michigan reach the Frozen Four in 2008. He is now in his third season as a pro. Originally drafted by Anaheim in the 4th round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Kampfer was acquired from Boston by the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Greg Zanon at last season’s trade deadline. Kampfer appeared in 13 games with the Wild down the stretch scoring 2 goals and an assist in those contests. He was a member of the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup team but suffered two separate injuries late that season and did not appear in a playoff game.
The 5’11” Ann Arbor, Michigan born Kampfer already has a brutal history of head trauma beginning in October 12, 2008 when he was assaulted by Michigan Wolverine football running back Mike Milano during an alcohol-fueled on-campus incident. Kampfer suffered a concussion and fractured skull as result of that attack and had to undergo psychiatric treatment for panic attacks stemming from the brain trauma. Milano was convicted of aggravated assault. Kampfer missed the first sixteen games of Michigan’s season in recovery.
Three months later, Kampfer suffered another concussion when he was attacked in a game by Michigan State players Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp. The Wolverine defenseman suffered a concussion when he was sucker-punched from behind by Conboy, and a sprained neck from a Tropp slash to the neck while Kampfer lied motionless on the ice. Kampfer didn’t miss much time but Conboy and Tropp were suspended for the remainder of that season.
Kampfer suffered yet another concussion on March 3, 2011 while playing for the Boston Bruins when he was hit by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mattias Ritola.
Lalonde will miss Wednesday night’s home game against Peoria, as well as this weekend’s back-to-back contests in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters. Lalonde would be eligible for a return on Tuesday November 27th when Rockford hosts the Texas Stars at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
IceHogs head coach Ted Dent commented to the Rockford Register-Star on Tuesday on Lalonde’s hit on Steven Kampfer in response to the resulting three-game suspension.
“It’s tough,” Dent responded. “Once you’ve made up your mind you’re going to hit a guy and you have him lined up, and you kind of lean down before you take the shot, there’s a little contact on the head. It’s unfortunate he got hurt, but it’s part of the game.”
The suspension marks the fifth in total levied against the Rockford IceHogs already this season, and all in the past three weeks.
Andrew Shaw (6 games), Dylan Olsen (2 games) and Wade Brookbank (1 game) were all suspended as result of actions in a game on November 3rd against Lake Erie.
Kyle Beach was suspended for 1 game as result of receiving a match penalty for his hit on Brendan Smith in a game at Grand Rapids on November 9th.
Olsen, Beach, and now Lalonde all came in the form of Illegal checks to the head.
Shaw will serve the final game of his 6-game suspension on Wednesday night when the IceHogs host the Peoria Rivermen. Ironically, Shaw’s return is scheduled for this Friday night at Lake Erie, the same team he was suspended for jumping off the bench to start a fight with the Monsters’ Patrick Bordeleau.