How do you like your coffee? Crisp?

 ** my thoughts on today's 13-4 home win for the Icedogs vs. otters.

It started out as a normal home game for the Niagara Icedogs today. The visitors would be the last place team from the Western Conference – the Erie Otters – the Dogs in first place in the East Conference this game was not billed as a close contest on paper to start with.  The game would shift significantly after a play at the net between Alex Freisen and Ramis Sadikov. Friesen was going for a rebound / tip in from a shot that linemate Andrew Agozzino had directed his way. We have seen this sequence dozens of times over the past 5 years but this one would end a little differently. Sadikov was well out of the crease to cut down the angle – and Freisen came barrelling in to get his stick on the puck and ended up contacting the goalie with a solid bodycheck. The force sent Sadikov back into his net – maybe giving some secondary contact between the back of his head and the post.

 

Here is where the debate begins and will continue for awhile. What was Freisen’s intent?

1. There was not any defensive pressure on Freisen (ie. a defenceman didn’t push him into the goalie)

2. The goalie was well out of his crease.

3. The puck was in play (ie. both players were in the right place – Freisen didn’t come running in from the blueline and take a wild run at the goalie).

4. Alex Freisen is known for his hard play – he does play with an edge and sometimes goes over the edge.

5. To this Writer’s knowledge he has not been suspended this season for any infraction.

6. Will the league suspend one of Niagara’s Assistan Captains ?

7. Would the play have been different if a backup was present on the Erie bench?

 

Freisen was assessed a 5 minute major for charging as well as a game misconduct.  The later may have been decided when it appeared that Sadikov was not recovering from the hit.  If the goalie was not injured would he have been given the game misconduct? (probably not). Was the play violent – yes. If you ask both players if that is how they thought the play would finish I think that both of them would say ‘not at all’.

Sadikov lay sprawled on the ice for at least 5 minutes without moving. After some consultation with the trainer he was helped off the ice by a few teammates. Coach Ftorek was quick to follow them to the dressing room. When it was determined that the Sadikov could not continue – Crisp was called into action. He squeezed his feet into Ramis’ skates which were 3 sizes too small – strapped up the pads and put on his jersey – Crisp – with the #1 on his back.  Some of his teammates took a few warmup shots on him – one of them with such force (not really) that he ended up on his butt. As the puck was dropped the fans were cheering him on – and he graciously acknowledged the crowd before his adventure began.

GM Sherwood Bassin said that he didn’t play his team’s goalie situation very well.  They do have a few goalies on their ‘callup’ list, but they were involved in playoffs with their own teams so they decided to go with what they had.

So here is where the Niagara Icedogs are ... one of their players injured the opposition’s only goalie and now you have to:

1) win the game

2) not look like you are running up the score

3) not get anyone else injured (both sides)

I think it is like when you are playing with some of your younger cousins at Christmas time – if the play gets kinda rough (ie. a wrestling match breaks out) then you don’t want to be embarrass yourself by getting pinned – but you also don’t wanna hurt the kid.   Lose / lose by all accounts.

The gamesheet doesn’t tell you the whole story: http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/schedule/show/game/59245

Niagara did test the goalie early in the first period (3-0 lead) and then took their foot off the gas pedal. Erie potted a few goals as the Icedogs were not going at 100%. At the first break it was only a 3-2 lead by the home squad.  At the end of the second period the score was 7-3 (Otters were doing better than I predicted without an OHL goalie in net http://ohlwriters.com/articles/ontario-hockey-league-game-day-previews-for-sunday-march-4-2012  ).

 

So when people say that the Icedogs weren’t being very good sports about it all ... a couple of things come to mind:

  1. The Dogs could have scored 20 or 25 – but why ?? (makes me think of this high school basketball team in the states that beat another team by 100 points – why ?? http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705280820/Team-loses-in-100-0-victory.html)
  2. The Dogs weren’t firing at the net from all places / angles (ie. centre ice) but were shooting the puck in – dump and chase hockey – nothing different here.
  3. If the Dogs were able to develop a good scoring chance in tight would it be worse if they skated away and went behind the net and left the puck there for the Otters?
  4. The Otters played tough – they were passing and hitting well from their blueline into the Icedog zone. That was ‘normal’ so the Dogs played them like it was a normal game in those zones.
  5. Strome got 5 goals – yes he did – but it wasn’t like he went end to end and walked around the defence and drove hard to the net. It was from nice positional offensive play – good passing from linemates, etc..  (see point #3 above) He could have had 10 if the team was intent on setting him up – but why ??
  6. At the end of the game – the fans saluted Connor Crisp with a standing ovation. Some even started to chant: We want Crisp.
  7. Before the 3 stars were named all the Otters came to congratulate Connor Crisp – the Icedog players did the same. The players from both teams seemed satisfied with the outcome so why shouldn’t we be satisfied?
  8. Icedog Tom Kuhnhackl was helped off the ice in the third period after he was hit awkwardly near the boards. He did not put any pressure on his left leg as he was helped to the changeroom.

How do you like your coffee? I still like mine Crisp – Connor Crisp.

 

Some great game photos here from Joel Smith Photography including the Icedogs players congratulating Connor Crisp on his play today: http://joelsmithphotography.ca/wordpress/?p=4284