Last night’s 5-4 Admirals loss may have been one of the craziest and exciting hockey games that I’ve watched in a long time. I’m certain that the coaching staff, both of them, won’t be too happy with the defensive effort laid down. That being said, both offenses were buzzing from the second period to the final horn.
As far as losses go – I’d take the proverbial “last team that scores wins” goal fest over a low-scoring nailbiter every single time. A loss is a loss. But, when both sides are trading blows that hard, can’t be as upset with the result.
The flash point in the game last night was of course the melee that triggered a goalie fight in the third period. You can watch the full incident on Hockey Fights Video.
It all started when Rasmus Rissanen caught Rich Clune along the right wing boards with a knee. To me, it appeared as if Clune was looking to swoop to the left of Rissanen and, in a last ditch effort to get a body on him and slow his progress into the attacking zone, Rissanen stuck a leg out on him and sent Clune tumbling down.
While that play alone is poor from Rissanen. I can’t imagine too many Admirals were already that happy with him in the first place. He was playing a very physical game, which is fine, but often crossed the line when it came to the way he was delivering his punishment. Case and point: At the end of the second period Rissanen was fighting behind his own net with Colton Sissons for a puck around the boards. He hooked Sissons up, picked him up and slammed him, and then proceeded to give him a few stiff cross-checks high to the head and neck.
As soon as the Admirals, specifically Mike Liambas, saw the number of the truck that caught Clune on a hit and run… it was on. Liambas went for Rissanen. The Checkers looked to protect their player. The mass of bodies pushed into John Muse‘s net. Magnus Hellberg skated towards center ice to get a good view. And, once Muse went to grab Liambas in the pile, Hellberg took the mask off and went after his opposite netminder.
The game was so highly competitive that it really only took one agitating player like Rissanen to send things from nuts on the goal side of things to insane on the penalty minute figures.
I’ve said it in the past and I’ll say it again about this year’s Milwaukee Admirals team. They do not let anyone mess with their players. Not a soul. So often this season you see the likes of Joe Piskula or Johan Alm manhandling people away from their own goaltenders. When Viktor Stålberg was hit knee-on-knee by Brennan Evans there was an instant response with a fight by Jonathan Diaby. This team has zero problems policing a game on their own. And that’s what I take from last night’s wild ride in the third period.
If you look down memory lane in the recent years there have now been a few situations of goalies locking up. Perhaps the most infamous one of them all, the one that got him a bobblehead, was when Jeremy Smith fended off noted insane human being Rob Flick.
All it takes is one maniac to unleash a wave of fury. While that certainly is an extreme example of what it takes to trigger a goalie fight – I think the more reasonable comparisons to what we saw last night took place last season.
When Scott Darling made the same skate that Hellberg made last night – he did it because the game was already well out of hand and emotions were high. Also similar to last night, the scrum starts around the opposition net and got an Admiral goalie out to neutral ice. Darling gave Sami Aittokallio the look. And they went toe-to-toe.
On Instagram Darling would go on to say, “Couldn’t stop the puck so I figured I’d do something.” Funnily enough. He provided the following gem after hearing about Hellberg’s fight:
— Scott Darling (@SDarling_33) November 30, 2014
While no punches were landed, the next example is again similar to how things were triggered in the Admirals/Checkers game. When also noted insane human being Bobby Shea went head hunting on Simon Moser, in an 8-3 game, it got the entire Admirals team to react.
This goalie tiff actually begins with a far more outraged Kent Simpson, in my book, looking for a safe exit from a no-win scenario game. Marek Mazanec did oblige him and, despite his smirking demeanor, looked ready and willing to go. The referees just simply had enough at that point and wouldn’t even let them engage.
When taking all that in. Oddly enough I feel like a short answer of, “it happens,” can be said. I do find it interesting that the very first game after Clune made a statement regarding an opposition as “soft” that this fracas goes down with him in the mix – though as a victim more than as a trigger man to the actions that followed.
Could those comments come back to bite him and make teams try to get under the Admirals skin? …or was this simply one of those nights? Me, I think the entire game was so intense that it put people in “there can be only one” Highlander mode.
I expect the refs to attempt to clamp things down tight in this afternoon’s encore as a result of last night’s frenzy. I also wonder just how much the two have left after such a wild contest. It could be more defensively sound and slow due to the early afternoon start time… or a mad continuation of last night’s game. I think I’m fine with either.
Reactions to last night’s goalie fight? How do you feel the game escalated to that point? How will each team come at one-another in today’s game after such a frenzy yesterday?