First let’s get the scores and game outcomes out of the way…
The Bears lost the Outdoor Classic 4-3 in overtime on Friday night. Then they returned home for a 5-2 victory over the Phantoms Saturday night. And they finished the weekend with a 4-3 shootout victory last night.
For the weekend Hershey gained 5 of a possible 6 points and the Bears are now 4 points up in the East Division and are also 2 points up in the Eastern Conference (St. Johns has played 2 fewer games though).
Now, on to what happened during the game on Saturday night….
It was, simply put, one of the crazier things I have seen at a hockey game. The entire game was physical and the animosity was evident from the opening whistle. Despite not being division rivals and a further distance between them the Phantoms and Bears still don’t like each other very much.
The guy sitting next to me mentioned pretty early on that the game had a certain KHL feel to it.
And coming off a high emotion game like the Outdoor Classic made for some very intense hockey Saturday night.
If you weren’t there it can be explained as simply as this…
Keith Aucoin got into a scrap. And Jacob Micflikier tried to take down a guy a foot taller than him.
Aucoin’s scrap was crazy as it came against Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom who was wearing a full cage. The general rule in hockey is that if you are going to wear a full cage you better just stay out of the action and not get into any scrums. Holmstrom didn’t follow this un-written rule throughout the game and in the 3rd period it boiled over and Aucoin went at him.
After the linesman got between the two players you could see Aucoin grabbing for the full cage on Holmstroms helmet. It also appeared that he was trying to get his leg across Holmstrom's throat, much like a WWE wrestler might do. He was upset. He didn’t quite get the facemask, but he made sure to let Holmstrom know what he thought the whole way to the penalty box as he kept signaling to Holmstrom about the full cage he was wearing.
Amazingly enough…that wasn’t the most exciting, enraging battle of the night.
With about 3 minutes to go Joel Rechlicz, getting a rare 3rd period shift, laid a solid hit on Phantoms tough guy Tom Sestito. Neither player went down but you could tell it was a big hit. The two talked all game long, including during pregame warmups, but Sestito wouldn’t drop the gloves with Wrecker…at least not in a legal, on the ice fashion (keep reading).
Sidenote...has anyone else noticed that when Wrecker comes off the bench he just seems to be out there skating around like an amped up lost puppy? I am curious if he understands the Bears system or if he even attends practice. Maybe when the team starts discussing and practicing strategy he just goes to the back and works on some boxing. He is great fun to watch play, don't get me wrong, but I understand completely why he doesn't play in the 3rd period. Anyways...back to the original story.
After the hit by Wrecker, Sestito went off for a line change. Shortly thereafter another Phantom, can’t recall who, came in and laid a nice check on Wrecker. Impressively and somewhat unnecessarily considering who it was, Andrew Carroll came to Wreckers defense and dropped the gloves with the Phantom (guessing it was Tyler Brown but I am not certain).
Then Zach Miscovic started throwing punches with a Phantom.
At this point it was still somewhat controlled. At least compared to what was about to happen.
During all of this Wrecker is standing about 3 feet from the Phantoms bench kind of in shock as there is fighting going on around him and yet he is not involved. And then Sestito grabs him from the bench and they start fighting.
Yes, Tom Sestito and Wrecker were fighting while Sestito was on the Phantoms bench. Unfortunately for Wrecker this was not a fair fight as other Phantoms, including Oliver Lauridsen, a 6-6 defenseman, joined in to help the apparently incapable and gutless Sestito.
Now, we have all seen Wrecker make gestures to the bench and lunge at them (when they jump back in fear it is unbelievably funny by the way), but this was a little out of hand for a hockey game.
Here...this is the best video I have seen from it. I originally saw the video over at The Chocolate and White.
Danny Richmond, who is no stranger to throwing punches himself, came over to try and help since there were now Phantoms on the ice and on the bench getting involved with Wrecker. Richmond squared off with Cullen Eddy (I assume anyway...based on the scoresheet), and the two started going at it.
This is where it got kind of disturbing and incredibly frustrating for Bears fans and players alike…
Eventually Richmond was pushed up against the boards at the Phantoms bench. The Phantom on the ice (again assuming Eddy) had him pinned with his face towards the bench while other members of the Phantoms were taking swings FROM THE BENCH.
The problem here was that the Miskovic and Carroll scraps had the ref and one of the linesman occupied and the other linesman had tried (unsuccessfully) to get Wrecker off the ice.
So Richmond is getting beaten upon by a handful of Phantoms while there is no one around to help him.
The Bears bench at this point was going absolutely nuts. They were slamming sticks and yelling at the officials for one of them to get over there and help out.
One Bear got close to helping out as he, there was a #2 on his jersey but I couldn’t see the other number (my guess either Kane or Hanson), did sit up on the boards, but managed to control himself and not jump off to go help.
In fact, I am thoroughly impressed with the control Coach French had over the guys on the bench. I think everyone in the building and surely every single player on the Bears bench, wanted someone to jump off and help Richmond. But that would have resulted in a suspension which, despite their depth, the Bears would not have wanted.
I think, and I said this to a couple people, that if Steve Pinizzotto would have been on the team he likely would be suspended right now. (At the time I didn’t know that Pinner was actually in attendance, which was kind of funny once I learned that. Gotta wonder how much he wanted to be out there right then.) I also think that if Wrecker or Carroll would have been on the bench then one of them might be suspended as well. Although if Wrecker was on the bench, none of this would have happened.
And what if Braden Holtby had been the goalie? We either would have had a goalie fight at center ice or Braden would have been in there helping Richmond. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your opinion, Dany Sabourin was the goalie standing in the crease for this game.
Enough of that discussion....back to the action:
Once Wrecker realized what was going on with Richmond, he literally dragged the linesman, seriously it was like watching a guy do sprints with a parachute on his back, down towards the Phantoms bench in an effort to help Richmond. He is strong on his skates, I will definitely give him that. There is a lot of drive in those legs.
By the time Wrecker got down there the Phantoms had mostly let Richmond up and he was able to get off the ice. It appeared he might have been a little banged up, but he played Sunday so apparently nothing to bad.
Finally things calmed down and everything was sorted out.
In the end, one 3rd period shift for Wrecker resulted in 108 penalty minutes and 5 game misconducts (Wrecker got 2. Seriously, Wrecker got kicked out of the game TWICE!!).
All told the game featured 154 penalty minutes. Wrecker was responsible for 45 of those.
Honestly, I am guessing Wrecker had 3 shifts (he got a 10 minute misconduct late in the first for something, not sure what) during the entire game. There is no way he was on the ice for more than 3 minutes in the game. And he got 45 penalty minutes and kicked out of the game TWICE.
15 penalty minutes per shift/minute on ice. Efficiency.
Apparently someone liked Wreckers performance so much that they paid $3,400 for his non-worn (during game play at least) Outdoor Classic jersey!! (Aucoin’s went for $4,000…other prices available at PAPuck.com).
See, I told you in the title…Wrecker gets 3rd period shift and chaos ensues.
I am expecting to see some Phantoms suspended by the AHL this week for the activities on the bench. Hockey lets a lot of things go, but leaving the bench during an altercation and getting into an altercation from the bench, are two things that aren’t taken lightly.
Rechlicz was suspended for Sunday’s game against Rochester, it was an automatic suspension handed down for accumulating 3 game misconduct penalties on the season. Otherwise I don’t think any Bears will be suspended. Wrecker would have been the lone option since he did fight a Phantom on the bench, but considering Sestito clearly started it, I can’t imagine the league penalizes him anymore.