I picked the wrong night to watch the St. Louis Blues instead of the Springfield Jr. Blues. Thanks to the replay on Fasthockey.com, I did manage to see one hell of a game. Holy crap did I pick the wrong night to watch the NHL...
"What do you mean, Ninja?" you ask. "How could junior hockey beat the NHL?"
Two things: insane scoring and bloody bare-knuckle brawling. This recap does not do it justice. This box score also does not do it justice. The Jr. Blues tore the Chicago Hitmen a new one in front of 1,217 fans, many of whom stayed over from the 3rd Annual Guns & Hoses charity hockey match between police and firefighter teams. It also featured the appearance of Barry, the new Rivermen mascot. A mascot who bears (no pun intended) a strong resemblance to a certain pantsless blue rat we all know and love.
The first period saw the Jr. Blues open up the scoring when defenseman Ben Kramer made the first goal at 1:26 with a beauty of a shot off the blue line. Gavin Tufte scored at 7:38 and the Jr. Blues went to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. The only penalties of note was the fight between Stewart Bell and Alex Murphy at 0:09 followed by roughing double minors handed out to Springfield's Tyler Rehm and Chicago's Brent Formosa at 7:41. Bell won the fight, Rehm drew.
The second period exploded first with goals and then exploded with blood. The Jr. Blues realized that in order to beat your opponent, you must score way more goals than he does. Kyle Cook understood this and netted a powerplay goal at 9:30 for the first goal of the second, following it up with another goal at 11:41. Garrett Williams snuck a goal in at 10:42. Chris Sitler potted goals at 14:24 on the power play and then at 17:56. Chicago got its lone goal of the period at 15:58.
Remember when I said exploding blood? That happened at 18:46. Ruslan Pedan and Cody Dixon, the d-men at the time, tore into Chicago as a line brawl broke out. Pedan fought Chicago's Tommy Dowell and was given an instigator penalty and a game misconduct for the fight. Dixon lit into his opponent, Vince Lacek, taking him to the ice and pounding on him, bloodying the Chicago player's nose and nearly flattening the referee in the process with a wild swing. Lacek made his protest known with an obscene gesture, earning a game misconduct and likely suspension. Dixon managed to not get any extra time other than the fighting penalty, returning to the ice to help Garrett Williams off the ice after an injury. Lacek was sent to the locker room to recuperate. He managed to cover the face-off dot with the blood from his nose and left a bit of a trail that the officials couldn't get out completely. Mike Williams from Springfield also got a roughing penalty as he, Pedan and Dixon went to the box. Lacek went off as his teammates Dowell and Zach Mudge took their own places in the box. The bad blood spilled over when Springfield's Kevin Walters and Chicago's Josh Nardella scrapped a little, each earning a Delay of Game penalty at 19:08. Springfield led 7-1 at the end of the second.
Yeah, I missed one hell of a game while watching another tense game.
The third period was a little more subdued. Anthony Annunziato opened scoring at 5:21 and ended it with a power play success at 18:54 with goals for Chicago. Brett Skibba answered the first goal at 9:36 with a beautiful top-shelf shot, chasing Chicago goalie Nick Kohn out of the game. Garrett Williams scored at 10:34 off of new Chicago goalie Joe Olen. The only penalty that occurred was Cody Kohn's tripping penalty at 17:28, allowing the Hitmen a final power play which Annunziato used to score.
Final score: Springfield 9, Chicago 3. Your three stars: 1. Kyle Cook 2. Garrett Williams 3. Chris Sitler
I knew I should have gone to the game. Turns out it was the 500th win by the NAHL team since its 1993 inception. They even posed with Barry, the new Rivermen mascot at the end of the game. A blue bear replacing the large-jawed riverboat captain? I smell ursine nepotism. Either that or my cats decided to use the rug as a pit stop.
The next game is December 11 at 4pm at the Nelson Center in Springfield. Tickets are still $7.00 the last time I checked.