The Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, concluded their second three-game weekend in wild fashion Sunday, getting in a brawl with the Chicago Wolves that involved both benches. In fact, the extra-curricular activities spilled into the Rockford bench in the waning seconds of what was to be a 2-1 IceHogs victory.
Rockford's win, along with a 4-3 triumph over the Wolves on Friday, gave the team four points for the weekend. The IceHogs dropped Saturday's game with Peoria 4-0, but inched closer to a possible playoff berth.
Trouble started following what was a clean hit on Ben Smith by Chicago's Guillaume Desbiens, as the Wolves were trying to make one last rush to tie the score with six seconds to play. The door to the IceHogs bench was the catalyst in the situation, as it flew open and sent Smith to the floor of the bench.
What happened next is open to discussion. You could say that Desbiens attempted to jump on Smith after he was down, or argue that he simply lost his footing and fell on Smith. Whatever the reason, tempers fueled by two nail-biters in three nights took over.
Jeremy Morin, who figured in both IceHogs goals Sunday, engaged Desbiens from the Rockford bench. Assistant coach Ben Simon pulled Morin away, but players from both sides were more than happy to get involved. Most of the heated action took place between the benches and not the ice.
Rob Flick locked up with Desbiens. Jim Vandermeer entered the Rockford bench and squared off with Wade Brookbank. Chicago's Devin DiDiomete reached from his spot on the bench and threw several big left hands at Martin St. Pierre.
IceHogs assistant coach Ben Simon was a big reason the fighting didn't escalate further, pulling Morin away from the middle of the scrum. Throughout the melee, only Adam Polasek actually left the bench. Make no mistake, suspensions will likely follow.
I'd expect Flick, who has already been suspended multiple games in 2012-13 and Morin to face league discipline. On the Wolves side, Polasek and DiDiomete figure to get some time off. By Tuesday, we should hear a verdict from the AHL.
Morin Finding His Groove: Morin's temper hasn't been the only thing that's hot lately. He had a pair of goals in Friday's defeat of the Wolves and has already posted career-high numbers for the IceHogs.
Morin leads the team with 25 goals and also has 20 assists, putting him behind only St. Pierre and Brandon Pirri in points. In his last seven games, Morin has eight goals.
This is really Morin's first full healthy tour of the AHL, having suffered a concussion in January of 2011 that affected him in each of the last two seasons. Morin is showing what he can do when healthy and should wind up on the 'Hawks roster next season, if not before.
McArdle Suspended: One player you might figure to get involved in a scrap would be Kenndal McArdle, yet there was no sign of him in the brawl Sunday. That's because he was already suspended.
McArdle was booted late in the third period of the Peoria game Saturday night for making an obscene gesture to an official. He missed Sunday's festivities and will also be out of the first of two games in Abbotsford this coming weekend.