Last weekend the Milwaukee Admirals soundly put a beat down on the Rockford IceHogs: winning two games in two days and outscoring them 14-5. There was also the underlying nasty factor courtesy of some vicious hits that caused injuries to Admirals players.
The first of those nasty hits came from Brad Mills who targeted Patrick Cehlin with a blindsided check to the head last Friday. Of all the hits that I saw over last weekend – this was the one that stood out to me as the worst of the bunch because of (1) the targeting factor (2) the point and selection of impact (3) there wasn’t even a call made for the hit on the play.
It has been a frequently asked question this week: has Brad Mills been suspended? Well, it is now one week since the incident and the league has made suspensions for games that have taken place long after the Admirals and IceHogs weekend of fun. That tells me that, not only was the initial call for an illegal check to the head missed on the ice, the AHL has completely ignored this play and let Mills enter tonight’s game as the human target that I suppose he wants to be.
Considering Mills was also assessed a major penalty for boarding the following night that temporarily put Mathieu Tousignant out of action in the game – I had assumed he had a death wish to be suspended. With how stingy the NHL is regarding hits to the head, and rightly so they should be, I had my full expectations for a decent suspension to Mills given the nature of the hit, the circumstances in which he delivered it, and his devil-may-care boarding major the very next night. The AHL’s response? Listen to the magic conch shell.
The flashpoint for the last time these two played in Milwaukee, the play that triggered the near line brawl, was Bobby Shea‘s blindside check in neutral ice that injured Simon Moser. While it wasn’t as dirty of a hit as the one put on by Mills – the blindside mentality was still there. To boot, at that point in the hockey game – the IceHogs were far more interested in the dangerous and vicious than the competitive and sporting.
Keep in mind that this hit from Shea happened with just over four-minutes remaining in the game – Cehlin was already targeted – and the IceHogs were trailing by five goals. It was an attempt to make a big hit for the sake of a big hit – and nothing else. While I still don’t buy that the end game for Shea was to injure Moser – I also don’t think that changes the fact that he was aiming for a big open ice hit no matter the consequences. He landed his check. And he was greeted by three Admirals players with their gloves dropped.
In those two games last weekend the Admirals and IceHogs combined for 152 penalty minutes. There were six fights: Brad Mills vs. Mike Liambas (1), Brandon Mashinter vs. Scott Ford, Jeremy Morin vs. Anthony Bitetto, Mark McNeill vs. Charles-Olivier Roussel, Brad Mills vs. Mike Liambas (2), Bobby Shea vs. Scott Valentine, and Garret Ross vs. Mathieu Tousignant.
Goodness knows these two always play each other physical and things have the capacity to brew up that sort of heat. I only wonder if the heat, provided with the frenzy if a week ago, hasn’t been stirring in the mind of the IceHogs who haven’t played a game since that two-night whooping at the hands of the Admirals. Whether or not that gets implemented in the way the Iowa Wild chose to respond – we’ll see later tonight.
UPDATE: Patrick Cehlin will make his return to the lineup tonight after missing two games following his check to the head by Brad Mills. He will be creating the Super Swede line of Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Cehlin in his return.
How will this game play out? Are cooler heads going to prevail or can we expect some more nastiness out of the IceHogs? How do the Admirals rebound from a somewhat flat outing on Wednesday night?