I love hockey because there is no other game like it. When it’s at its most barbaric it resembles the original intent of the game – punishing hits, wicked sticking, slamming opponents to the ice. But it’s 2012, and the Nanook nature of the game has all but disappeared, and for good reasons. Yet, there are hockey games where the roots of the game shine through. But there’s always a fine line to dance between old skool rock ’em sock ’em and brutality. Often times the line is crossed unintentionally. And we saw both last night in Oklahoma City as the Barons defeated the Milwaukee Admirals, 2-1 in overtime.
The Ads are, as I said before, historically a rock ’em sock ’em team. The heavy defense, and the attempt to slow the pace are consistent reminders that they farm for the Nashville Predators. And last night that was the case, but they have added a new wrinkle of pucks-on-net offense that we’ve not seen a whole bunch in recent years. The proof is in the pudding. They’d take 44 shots on OKC starting goaltender, Yann Danis. But the old feistiness remained. 29 penalty minutes, but goaded the Barons into suffering 44. That’s how the Ads system works. They grind you down, and force you to play their style. But Friday the Ads looked altogether scary as they reeled off offense that challenged the Barons.
The first period was as advertised. A tough battle, lots of whistles, lots of jockeying for position. This favored the play towards the Ads who’d score the first goal of the evening. As the teams battled hard in the first period, we’d not get that first goal until the opening minutes of the 2nd period.
Austin Watson swatted at a rebound that came off Yann Danis’ left pad. Assisted by Gabriel Borque, the Admirals took a one goal lead as the rough and tumble, fits and tantrums continued.
Midway through the second period, Taylor Fedun would play catch and pass with Justin Schultz, cycling the puck from right to center. Fedun would rifle a hard shot on net, and score his first goal of the season. The second period rolled on, and the Admirals would score again. However, the goal was disallowed as one of the zebras blew the whistle during play, thus negating anything taking place thereafter.
The offense for the Ads found another notch in the third period as they’d take 17 shots on net, and stay out of the penalty box for nearly a full 14 minutes. Neither team would score a goal. The period would be marred by an awkward drive of Ads forward Taylor Beck into the boards care of Alex Plante. For several minutes, Beck lay semi motionless on the ice while the rest of the Barons and Ads motioned for the trainers to hop on the ice. It was a scary scene. One that necessitated the stretcher and a trip to the hospital. Play continued afterwards, but with a heavy heart for the condition of Beck. Plante would get tossed after given a 5 minute boarding penalty as well as a 10 minute misconduct. The Barons would eventually kill the penalty.
In overtime, it was again a heavy point shot that nabbed a goal for Oklahoma City. Martin Marincin shot the puck towards the net, where Mark Arcobello was able to ricochet a shot around Jeremy Smith. The Barons would win 2-1 in OT with no Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, or Hall present on the scoresheet.
OKC defenseman Alex Plante was assessed a five-minute major, game-misconduct for boarding on the play. Beck, injured behind the Barons goal, was unconscious for a couple of minutes. Before he left the ice, Beck was talking and moving his extremities.
“He was cut pretty bad above the eye and was bleeding quite a bit,” said OKC goaltender Yann Danis. “I think he was out for a bit. But he was awake when they left. He was moving fine. He was aware of what was going on.”
Plante stood nearby and watched medical personnel attend to Beck before leaving for the locker room.
Also from the same article:
Fedun, who has four assists, identifies with Beck’s injury. Fedun missed what was supposed to be his rookie season when he shattered his femur on a similar play last year in an Edmonton Oilers preseason game.
“It really makes you uncomfortable when something like that happens,” Fedun said. “It puts things into perspective. It almost takes your mind away from the game a little bit. Hopefully, we get some good news (on Beck).”
This game won’t be remembered for the goals or the final score though. The Admirals lost 2 players to injuries as both Kevin Henderson and Taylor Beck were both forced to leave the game early. In the first period, Henderson was sandwiched between Antti Tyrvainen and another Barons player, and the hit happened well away from the puck. Tyrvainen was assessed a penalty for interferance, and picked up another 5 minutes when Mark Van Guilder stood up for his fallen teammate and dropped the gloves for a small tussle.
Schultz was good, again. Two assists. Arcobello and Fedun are your goal scorers, and the team finally accomplishes a little bit of secondary scoring, something Coach Nelson was concerned about.
Yann Danis earned the third star, but that’s just plain stupid. He was the best player for either team on the ice on Friday. One goal on 44 shots is bananas. He needed this one, and his team needed it from him. This win goes to Yann, and Yann alone. Do they stick with him again tonight? I don’t see a scenario where you don’t roll with the hot hand, and use Roy more sparingly. We’ll know soon.