Pierre-Cedric Labrie, IceHogs, photo: Todd Reicher
By Chris Block
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was suspended 1-game by the AHL on Monday, stemming from his actions during a fight in the third period of Friday night’s 5-1 loss at Lake Erie, also Rockford’s 8th consecutive road defeat.
Labrie was assessed a match penalty and game misconduct for his actions during a fight he instigated with Lake Erie forward Josh Anderson.
In the American Hockey League, a match penalty carries an automatic $200.00 fine.
Per Rule 21.1
A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure an opponent in any manner.
In addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the President has ruled on the issue.
During the fight, which Labrie instigated, Anderson speared Labrie down to the ice. While wrestling on the ice, with both linesman trying to separating them, Labrie grabbed the helmet off Anderson’s head, proceeding to attempt to strike Anderson in the head repeatedly with his own helmet.
Also while all this was going on, Anderson alleged that Labrie gouged his right eye during the scrum as the two were still going at one another on the ice as the linesman attempted to pull them apart.
If true, this happened out of view of the camera shot because Anderson’s head was underneath a linesman. Apparently in response to the supposed eye gouge, Anderson grabbed a handful of Labrie’s hair and yanked on it before a linesman quickly ended that. Anderson was not seriously injured. He played the next night in another Lake Erie win at Grand Rapids.
Rockford had recently gone down 5-1 in the game Friday and several IceHogs had shifted their focus to being as physical as possible for the remaining nine minutes of the contest. Michael Liambas had been running around and eventually found a dance partner in Dillon Heatherington.
On his shift a few minutes later, Labrie went out of his way to finish a few checks hard along the boards. Later in the shift, Josh Anderson seized an opportunity when Labrie had the puck. Anderson checked Labrie clean into the half wall, to which Labrie responded by jumping Anderson. Labrie threw several punches before Anderson could get his gloves off and the two eventually wound up in the tussle on the ice surface.
Both players were ejected. As was Liambas earlier. He was issued a 10-minute misconduct at 11:55 of the third period that essentially ended his night.
Shortly after Labrie was ejected, either he, or Liambas, or both, went to the home team’s locker room to confront the Lake Erie players. That situation was reported on the Lake Erie broadcast and apparently ended without a major incident.
Labrie signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks organization in the summer of 2014. He was kept in the fold by signing an AHL contract with the IceHogs this past off season. He serves as an alternate captain for the IceHogs. Jake Dowell is the captain and Mark McNeill is currently serving as the second alternate.
The 29-year old winger has played in 506 career regular season AHL games and posted 79 goals, 92 assists and 931 penalty minutes. Labrie also has appeared in 46 NHL games, all with the Tampa Bay Lightning over three seasons 2011-14.
Labrie will miss Rockford’s next game, Wednesday March 30th in Rosemont against the Chicago Wolves. He’ll be eligible for return Friday when the IceHogs host San Antonio in Rockford.
SWEDISH PROSPECT CONTIGENT NOW READY FOR DUTY
Four Blackhawks blue line prospects all saw their seasons end in Sweden this past week.
Linköping HC, a team that includes Gustav Forsling and Carl Dahlstrom, were eliminated from the SHL playoffs in the quarter-finals on Sunday by the Vaxjo Lakers. Linköping had taken a 2-0 lead in that series but lost the next four.
Djurgarden, which includes Robin Norell and Robin Press, were eliminated last Thursday by the Frolunda Indians. That series concluded 4 games to 1 in favor of Frolunda.
Thus, all four aforementioned Blackhawks prospects are clear to join the Rockford IceHogs for the remainder of the season. Dahlstrom, Press and Norell all saw game action with the IceHogs at the end of last season, and some in the playoffs. Forsling, however, stayed back in Sweden as he was recovering from a wrist injury.
Norell, Dahlstrom and Press are all Blackhawks draft picks. Forsling was acquired in the late January 2015 trade with Vancouver for Adam Clendening.
It’s likely that Norell and Forsling will sign entry-level deals with the Blackhawks and begin their North American careers full-time beginning next season.
Robin Norell’s contract with Djurgarden is up. He inked a one-year deal with his SHL club last spring. The idea was he’d play one more year in Sweden, then make the transition to North America in 2016.
Forsling and Dahlstrom each have term remaining on their deals with Linköping. However, both have clauses in their contracts that now allow the Blackhawks to determine where Forsling and Dahlstrom will play next year.
Forsling, who will turn 20 in June, is probably the most ready of the four to make the jump to the AHL and it’s the Blackhawks’ call on where he plays next season.
Robin Press, 21, is contracted to Djurgarden next season. By all reports this was not a stellar season for Press, his first in Sweden’s top league after tearing up the “B” league in 2014-15. Press was a scratch in Djurgarden’s final playoff game. He averaged 5:44 of ice time per game in postseason. During the regular season, Press averaged 10:20 per contest to Norell’s 15:00.
The Hawks were relatively high on Press though, at least in comparison to some other blue line prospects, so he’ll get more looks and be a guy to keep an eye out for in the longer run. Of the four Swedish defenseman, Press is the only right-handed shot.
Forsling has the biggest offensive upside of the four. His minutes were actually down this year from 2014-15 (16:12, down from 17:24) but his offensive production was up from 6 points in 38 games to 21 points in 48 appearances in the 2015-16 regular season.
Dahlstrom drew critical reviews from Blackhawks hockey ops in his 2 appearances for the IceHogs last spring, only one of which they were actually present for. Norell exhibits a strong base, yet unspectacular style that is more similar to Johnny Oduya in some ways. Press is a raw talent, more in the Ville Pokka vein, who the Blackhawks believe they can work with.
Forsling has great mobility and a booming shot, which he loves to unload on opposing goaltenders. He was a standout again this past winter for a second straight year at the World Juniors for Team Sweden.
Dahlstrom and Forsling are fairly close. They were rarely paired together on Linköping, however. Dahlstrom is used in more of a defensive role. Their average time on ice is nearly identical, each coming in at just over 16 minutes per game.
Forsling’s hockey idol growing up was legendary Swedish league blue liner Magnus Johansson, who briefly played for the Blackhawks during the 2007-08 season. Forsling was teammates and got to skate alongside Johansson on Linköping in 2014-15, the final season of Johansson’s 25-year pro career.