The old joke “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out” is one that makes eyes roll. But if you were at the Canadiens’ game against the Lac La Biche Clippers on Friday night, you know how true that statement is. The night was plagued with fights, dirty hits, and unsportsmanlike conduct both on and off the ice; insomuch that the game ran over an hour more than usual. Lac La Biche ended up with the win with a score of 7-3.
Dyson Roy scored in the fourth minute of the first to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead; their only lead of the night. It only took five minutes for the Canadiens to start taking some serious penalties, beginning with a four-minute high-sticking penalty. Leighton Desjarlais scored for the Clippers on the ensuing power play, tying the game. Brody Rosychuk scored again for Lac La Biche to give the Clippers a 2-1 lead shortly before the period expired.
There were 38 penalty minutes assessed during the first period; the least of the night.
The Clippers scored four unanswered goals in the second period before Roy scored again for St. Paul to finally answer back. Astoundingly, a five-goal period was the least interesting part of the night. There were 22 penalties during the frame, for a total of 144 penalty minutes. 16 of those penalties occurred at the same time, during a fight that involved all players on the ice except the goalies. Bailey Lonsberry and Ty Thompson were given the instigator penalties for St. Paul and Lac La Biche respectively. The two players also received game misconducts.
Things really went off the rails right at the close of the period. Rosychuk, who received an unsportsmanlike conduct minor during the fight earlier in the period, was given a 10-minute misconduct for fighting. As he was escorted off the ice by a referee, he slammed his stick into the glass in an attempt to snap it and launched an aggressive and threatening tirade against everyone around including team staff, arena staff, and security. During this verbal onslaught, he threatened to have the entire Clippers team instigate a line brawl. The out of control shouting lasted for approximately three minutes before Rosychuk quieted down. He was given a game misconduct for his behaviour and a police presence made their way to the arena for the remainder of the game.
Braydon Burak attempted to give the Canadiens some positive momentum with a goal early in the third period. But a continuing and constant barrage of penalties of increasing severity kept St. Paul from having any real chance to make a comeback. While not quite as brutal as the second period, there were still 10 penalties in the third, including two ten-minutes and a game. Desjarlais scored again for Lac La Biche immediately after Burak’s goal to reach the final, 7-3 score.
“It was a pitiful effort by us tonight,” said Canadiens coach Joe Young. “With the veteran players that we have and the leaders that we have, we needed to be better. We just didn’t show up to play tonight, plain and simple. But it was a good learning experience to test our discipline. You can only get taunted for so long and take dirty hits before you run out of patience. We’re looking forward to bouncing back and moving ahead from this one. It’ll be good to put it behind us.”
And bounce back they did, beating the Vermilion Tigers 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. This weekend, St. Paul will host the ever-threatening Wainwright Bisons on Friday night at 8:00. The Clippers will hit the road to play against the Cold Lake Ice on Friday. Then, they too will play the Bisons on Saturday.