Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fight for your right

...to party!

Hockey brawls are common. They're a reason why we love hockey as well. An occasional one on one can turn the tide, change a loss to a victory, energize players and fans. But when does the game of hockey turn into a massive brawl? Are fights inevitable when the refs show their incompetence and annoy the players and fans alike?

Tensions rise, one bad foul leads to another bad call, and then all hell breaks loose. This is a story of such a game. 
Adam Naglich (Medvescak) vs Kevin Moderer (Graz 99ers)
Have you ever seen a game with 295 PIM? If not go to the official highlights and check it out. There is big rivalry between the teams of KHL Medvescak Zagreb and Medical Moser Graz99ers dating to season 09/10. Back then the last seeded underdog Medvescak kicked Graz 99ers in the nuts and made a miracle on ice. G99ers were first seeded team before playoffs. 

Naglich and Moderer flashing the fists

Mile is our hero
Dennis Bozic (Photo: Sanja Berend)
Sundays' game started with lots of penalties and a dance
between Croatian/Swedish youngster Dennis Bozic and G99ers' tough guy Gill Lefebvre. Former Flyers prospect proceeded to teach Dennis a lesson. He learned later its not nice to pick on younger guys. 

38 PIM in first period and no goals led to an even wilder second period. Curtis Fraser took on himself to dance with Lefebvre but was knocked down in the process. However Lefebvre recieved a GM and was sent off. 

Three goals later, at 2:1 for Graz, Dario Kostovic used his extensive knowledge of swearing in Croatian and translated it to German while trying to say to refs what they've done wrong and where should they stick it. He was awarded with a complementary shower. 
Kosta Kosta!
Dario Kostovic scored 4 goals in 4 victories. So far when he scores his team wins (Photo: Sanja Berend)
Vanek tallied his first goal of the night and probably thought he will leave Graz with a nice win to seal the one month vacation in Austria. But refs and Van Ballegooie decided otherwise. Ganahl decided it was time to settle the score with MacAulay and Van B. jumped in to help his buddy. Meanwhile Naglich went on to beat Moderer into a pulp. Few minutes later and 130PIM later (Match penalty for VanB) refs returned Greentree who was sent of instead of MacAulay and sent Kenny to shower early. 

You can see the video of the brawl below:

And here:

Second period ended with 3 PP goals by the Bears. Brandon Buck, David Brine and Tomislav Zanoski decided to score and turn the game around.

Halfway through the third period Ouzas got injured in the net (upper leg muscle, up to two weeks off the ice) and refused to get out of the net. Vanek took it really nice and awarded Ouzie's dedication to the team with a wrap-around for the tie. He left the crease and got changed by Robert Kristan in the net.

Vanek scored a brace in his last game of Euro trip
However, 99ers didnt laugh for long. After apparently a big mistake by former Flyers and Medvescak defensman Andy Delmore (my dear friend, hi Peter!), Nathan Perkovich scored for the lead. Two minutes later, Andy Sertich added a 6th goal of the night for the Bears. With two minutes to go Coleman Rodney Jarrett scored for 99ers, who pulled their goalie for another attacker but the Bears held firm. 92% of PK in 18 games for Bears and excellent defense (best SV/SA ratio in league) were enough for them to take a 9th win in a row and continue a streak of wins since Jeffrey joined the team.

Vanek and Brady bunch didn't laugh at the end of the game,
and David returns to Buffalo with a memory he'd  soon like to forget. 

In other news

Grabner decided to puncture young Red Bull goalie Luka Gračnar, Slovenian prospect and a GK with future with yet another trademark shorthander.

Grabner grew a lockout beard. Will it last until playoffs? Whats he implying with his hand gesture?
Gračnar didn't manage to get a 3rd win in a row and took 4 pucks out of his goal but still keeps team best 92.4% SVS and 2.34GAA. Not bad for a 1993. born kid.

Sammy Gagner is on fire. 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games are kinda okay I guess. His team is so good it wins even with him sitting out.
Sam Gagner resting during the game against HDD Telemach Olimpija (1G 1A)
So far, with 16 points in 9 games for Medvescak, Dustin Jeffrey (or Justin) is the best NHL lockout player in the league. 9 games, 9 wins and 6 goals. Nice signing by the team. Sutter, be scared. Be really really scared.

Photo bombing Jeffrey's moment by the Author (photo: Igor Šoban)
The league goes to a break now, some of the players will be joining their National teams for a take on last 3 spots for 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, including Grabner, Nodl, Vanek (?), Kopitar, Muršak and few other "normal" players of EBEL.

League resumes in 10 days with and Medvescak is going for another venue change, 3rd of the season. Games on 14th, 16th and 18th of November are being played in 15,200 seat Arena Zagreb. HDD Telemach Olimpija, EC KAC and EC Red Bull Salzburg will be playing once again in the "big Arena" during a 3 game streak "PAN Arena Ice Fever".

Arena Ice Fever 2012 (Photo: Igor Šoban)
7 NHL lockout players will be playing during those 3 games, three (or four if Alex Auld stays) for RBS, two for EC KAC and one for Olimpija and Medvescak. It could be a record high fan attendance for all of them this season if the talks don't conclude something soon.

NHLPA and NHL had some talks on Sunday, and NHLPA continued this with a conf call earlier on Monday. This might be progress. But who cares, we got to see real class players in Europe this season so I hope Lockout lasts for a while more.

Biggest losers so far are NHL and hockey fans in North America and all over the world. Last punch they got was a confirmation that Winter Classic is cancelled.

Lost boys

are still talking about the incident when fans yelled "Opice, opice, opice" (Opice=monkey in Czech) to Simmonds. Looks like a day later he still didn't know what happened, and he found out next morning from the Internets. You can read a full article on it here on Puck Daddy. 

As we wrote earlier, Simmonds and Stewart started their bromance road trip in Crimmitschau and here's a story from the road (also by Puck Daddy author Nicholas J. Cotsonika):
They ended up in Crimmitschau, Germany, a town of only 20,000 people with a team in the German league's second division. They signed one-month contracts, hoping to find a higher level of competition later. They made no money. Though the team covered hotel rooms, hotel meals and cars, their salaries covered only the insurance on their NHL contracts.
Off the ice, it was quiet. Everything closed at 8 p.m. and stayed closed on the weekends, so they bought a TV and an Xbox to entertain themselves. On the ice, it was an adjustment. The NHL is so structured that Simmonds said "it's almost like you're programmed a certain way." This league was so unstructured that Simmonds didn't know where to be. He'd go to check his point man, and all five guys would be down low.
"I had to completely change my game," Simmonds said. "You can't do that, or else you're not going to be a good player in European hockey. You've kind of got to go with the flow of things."
But some of those things, they'll never forget. One end of their home arena was open to the air. You could see the woods. It could be cold. "If it was warm outside, you'd have the fog roll in," Simmonds said. It was packed with about 6,000 fans, who would go nuts and throw things on the ice, like cups and a chicken.
Yes, a chicken. Ready to cook.
"A [bleeping] chicken?" Stewart said with a laugh. "I was like, 'Whoa. Don't piss these fans off, man. They're throwing a chicken on the ice in Crimmitschau, they're no joke.' "
One game, Stewart scored two goals, and Simmonds assisted on both. In the NHL, they announce the three stars, and the guys take a little twirl, raise their sticks and disappear. In Crimmitschau, the fans would chant the players' names. The players would come out and dance.
Yes, dance. On the ice.
"They called him out first," Simmonds said. "The whole team is in a semicircle. He goes and does a dance, and then I had to go do a dance in front of the fans."
"Then literally you skate around the ice," Stewart said. "It's like a Stanley Cup party. I'm like, 'Is this every game?' "
That is the stuff Simmonds will remember most.
"The fan situation in Germany," he said, "that was probably the best part I think of my trip so far."
Wayne's happy face
Wayne Simmonds plays with his bro Chris Stewart for White Tigers of Liberec
Lockout lasts, and great stories are written all over Europe. I do hope it lasts a while longer. It could get pretty cool soon when even more players come over for insurance and allowance money.

Until next time, K.

P.S. for all of you who wonder what happened to Andy Nodl in this post.. well nothing. Just like his scoring, there's nothing to report on. He did get some flu or something in Innsbruck though. Get better Andy <3 

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