By Chris Block
There is still a lot more to come from Saturday night’s bench-clearing brawl between the IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins before a sellout crowd of 6,219 fans at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford. [Video of the brawl is posted again at the bottom of this post]
230 penalty minutes in all were dealt out in Saturday’s game. 202 of those came as result of the brawl.
Frustrations from an IceHogs perspective had boiled over at the 11:58 mark of the second period after Grand Rapids forward Landon Ferraro scored a power play goal to put the visiting team ahead 6-3.
The IceHogs had been assessed five-straight minor penalties by the officials in the first eleven minutes of the second period alone and the Griffins had capitalized on two of those opportunities with the man-advantage. To that point in the contest, Grand Rapids was 3 for 6 on the power play. Rockford had just one power play chance to that point and it resulted in a Dylan Olsen goal, giving the IceHogs a 1-0 lead at 3:57 of the first period.
No one on the Rockford side after the game was entirely blaming the refs for the lopsided power plays going in Grand Rapids favor. The IceHogs players and coach admitted most of the calls against them were warranted. Although, it was the hooking call referee Joe Sullivan gave Terry Broadhurst that gave Grand Rapids the power play that Landon Ferraro would use to put his team up 6-3 that had the IceHogs livid with the officiating.
Broadhurst had tied up a Griffins player off an offensive zone face off as the two were battling for position. This went on as a loose puck was behind the two. Jeremy Morin pounced on it and got a shot away. But then the whistle blew with Sullivan calling Broadhurst for a hooking minor. Several IceHogs were visibly agitated with Sullivan after that call and even moreso after Sheahan scored.
Then the fight happened.
Ted Dent sent out a line of Kyle Beach, Wade Brookbank and Philippe Paradis, with Beach centering. Beach mauled Griffins’ forward Riley Sheahan immediately after the puck was dropped on the ensuing faceoff and all hell then broke loose at the BMO.
Details, Notes and the Aftermath
-There is concern from the IceHogs side that they could get hammered by the AHL pretty hard with suspensions seeing that this is the third bench-clearing brawl type event Rockford has been involved in over the past ten calendar months.
-This is Rockford’s second bench-clearing brawl in less than a year, the previous one being 46 games ago on April 1, 2012 at Milwaukee. The IceHogs were also involved in a line-brawl on November 3, 2012 in a game against Lake Erie at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford. In that game, Andrew Shaw hopped off the bench to get involved in the fight. He was followed by Wade Brookbank.
-It should be clear that of the two sides, three Grand Rapids players were first to jump off the player benches. They headed directly for Kyle Beach who had continued to pummel Riley Sheahan after Beach had got the better of Sheahan in the fight that initiated the brawl.
-Of the players on the ice for the faceoff just before the brawl, the IceHogs had 13 fighting majors on the season to Grand Rapids 1. That one, Tomas Tatar, who fought Mark Olver of Lake Erie back in November. Neither of those two are considered fighters.
-Seeing news of the brawl breaking on his Twitter feed, now-Chicago Blackhawks enforcer Brandon Bollig texted Ben Smith (who is out of action currently with a hand injury) from Phoenix (where the Blackhawks will play on Sunday) while the brawl was going on asking Smith for the details.
-Ejections dealt out by referees Joe Sullivan and Trent Knorr were quite lopsided in spite of the fact Grand Rapids jumped the benches first.
Rockford saw 8 players ejected to Grand Rapids’ 5. This left the IceHogs with 11 skaters, seven forwards and four defenseman, for the last 28 minutes of the contest.
Kyle Beach, Wade Brookbank, Philippe Paradis, Shawn Lalonde, Kenndal McArdle, Rob Flick, Adam Clendening and Carter Hutton were the Rockford players ejected. McArdle, Flick and Clendening were not on the ice when the fighting started.
Gleason Fournier, Brian Lashoff, Francis Pare, Tomas Tatar and goaltender Petr Mrazek were the players ejected on the Griffins’ side. All five of those players were on the ice when the fights began.
Since Grand Rapids had just four skaters and a goalie given game misconducts, the rest of the game was played with Grand Rapids’ 14 skaters to Rockford’s 11.
Aside from the obvious reality of skating a line short at this level of hockey, that had a huge ramification on the outcome of this game, and potentially the league standings depending on how the rest of this season shakes out.
In spite of the short bench, Rockford made a surge in the third period and were within a bounce (over Jeremy Morin’s stick with a vacant left side of the net staring at him) of cutting the Griffins’ lead to a goal with 10 minutes to go in regulation. Morin saw that puck bounce over his stick however and the Griffins raced down to the IceHogs end and scored. The rest of the game was all Grand Rapids as they scored again 38 seconds later and won the game 11-6.
With the loss, Rockford falls to 8 points behind first-place Grand Rapids in the Midwest Division standings. The Griffins still own a game in hand at this point as well.
-It should be noted that not one of the Griffins players who jumped off the bench to ignite the bench-clearing brawl were ejected.
-Players who were on the ice at the drop of the puck before the brawl started
Francis Pare – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Tatar w/ Gleason Fournier & Brian Lashoff
Wade Brookbank –Kyle Beach – Philippe Paradis w/ Dylan Olsen & Shawn Lalonde
-Beach was sent out to center for the face-off draw, a position he doesn’t play.
Just before the puck is dropped, referee Trent Knorr says something to Beach, seeming to be a warning to Beach of some sort. Right after the puck is dropped, Beach hog-ties Sheahan by the neck and then begins throwing punches.
Down in the Griffins end, Brookbank went right after Brian Lashoff, who was retreating for a puck. Its clear Brookbank has no other intention. This prompts Grand Rapids goalie Petr Mrazek to gesture towards and say something to Brookbank – who then cross-checked Mrazek to the ice. Brookbank winds up in a fight with Gleason Fournier, who Brookbank basically destroys.
At this point, three players jump off the Grand Rapids bench in response to Beach continuing to throw punches at a prone Riley Sheahan, who was in the turtle position on the ice, and, presumably, Brookbank decking their goalie, Mrazek. While this is going on, Carter Hutton is sprinting to the Griffins end to challenge Mrazek. Once they tied up, Hutton peppered Mrazek with right hand after right hand.
-IceHogs injured players and scratches Ben Smith, Byron Froese and Brett Lebda were standing in the press box, very much into the brawl. More specifically, they were into watching their universally popular goaltender destroy Mrazek in that fight.
-Joe Sullivan, one of the officials in Saturday’s game, had previously refereed one other IceHogs game this season.
That night, November 16th against Houston, Joe Sullivan (and second official Jean Herbert) had the IceHogs penalized and short-handed on 9 occasions, to Houston’s 1.
-After the game Ted Dent said that he didn’t think any of his players suffered injuries in the brawling.
-According to several who witnessed it, Kyle Beach collapsed in the tunnel after being escorted off the ice and was attended to by the medical staff for a few minutes.
However, Beach was fine after the game.
-There’s little question Kyle Beach was the player on the ice who instigated the fighting and was the aggressor in the sequence. Beach continued to fight as the brawl went along and was also pinned down on the ice by a couple Griffins at one point.
One of those Griffins was Triston Grant, who has had a few run-ins with IceHogs players this season, including Brookbank, who Grant put a questionable hit from behind on ten days ago at the BMO. Beach was laying face-first on the ice with Grant on his back throwing punches at Beach. In the video below, you can see Grant hunt Beach down after Beach had left Sheahan laying at center ice. Sheahan, who was in the news off the ice in late October for a DUI charge, played three years of college hockey at Notre Dame and had not been in a fight in his professional career.
Grant was not issued a penalty nor was he ejected.
Its reasonable to assume Beach will get a sizeable suspension due to his actions in the mess.
The question becomes what will be the amount of fines or suspension IceHogs head coach Ted Dent will face?
Dent can justify sending out Beach, Paradis and Brookbank as a line at that moment in the game because his team had been short-handed and killing penalties for 9 of the first 12 minutes of that second period.
Paradis is a penalty-killer, Beach and Brookbank are not. Olsen and Lalonde are apart of the IceHogs penalty kill.
-IceHogs forward Brandon Svendsen spent parts of the third period playing a defense position. Svendsen had done that a few times last year when Rockford was short players.
-Ted Dent‘s comments after the game on the brawl…
“Well, you don’t like to see that stuff happen,” Ted Dent said. “It is what it is. It happened and we’ll just have to move on from it and get ready for Monday.”
Dent’s view on how the brawl unfolded…
“It was just a push and shove at the face-off and then a fight started and then it just went from there.”
-Dent’s response when asked if any of his players were injured in the melee…
“I don’t think so. I’m not 100 hundred percent sure, but a couple guys a probably banged up a little bit. But I don’t think anything major.”
-Dent’s thoughts on the discrepancy in ejections, 8 to 5, against his team.
“Yeah, I think they just lost track, maybe. They explained it to me. It didn’t make sense to me but there was nothing we could do at the time.”
-Dent on the officiating
“Yeah, I know Joe a little bit,” Dent said. “I mean, from the league. I didn’t think all the penalties were deserving. It was just one of those games we put behind us, wake up tomorrow and start fresh again.”
-Only the IceHogs team captains were made available to speak after the game.
-Alternate captain Ryan Stanton couldn’t pinpoint any one thing that led to the brawl.
“I think it was just – everyone’s emotions were going,” Stanton said.
“I honestly don’t even know who came off the bench first. I think everyone saw guys out there and there was fights going on. Next thing you know both benches were out. Obviously it got a little out of hand.. that will happen once in awhile in hockey. Hopefully not too often. But, it’s a good thing that our group stuck together and we were standing up for each other. And hopefully we just have to move past that and look forward towards next game.”
-Captain Martin St. Pierre on what he saw as the brawl unfolded…
“From my point of view, they had 2-3 guys jumping on the ice and then obviously we got to stick up for each other,” said St. Pierre after Saturday’s 11-6 loss. “And guys grabbed each other and that’s what it led to.
“There was a lot of emotions on the ice. Whatever the refs saw, whether we had 6-7 guys out and [Grand Rapids] had four, that’s [the ref’s] call. Other than that I think they did a pretty good job as far as trying to sort it out. The rest will be in the league’s hands.”
-St. Pierre’s reaction to his team having 8 players ejected to Grand Rapids’ 5…
“Yeah, that’s the frustrating part,” said the IceHogs captain.
“But I guess they’re only human and they can only see so much. But I think they evened it out pretty well as far as minutes on the board. We were down for two (minutes). We did wish they had a few more guys out on their team. But it is what it is. Like I said, the suspensions will take care of themselves and the league will see it all on video.”
-On Sunday, the IceHogs made some roster moves, adding two players.
The Chicago Blackhawks relocated forward David Gilbert from CHL Bloomington Blaze to the Rockford IceHogs.
Also, goaltender Kent Simpson has been re-assigned from the ECHL Toledo Walleye to the Rockford IceHogs by the Blackhawks.
…..More to come later
Part 2 of the Brawl – Adam Clendening vs Tomas Tatar