When I wrote earlier this year that I was happy the "nasty" was back in the Michigan/MSU hockey rivalry, this isn't the kind of nasty that I wanted to see.
One player in the hospital. One already suspended for three games. Another sure to receive a suspension. Players tossed from the handshake line. Fans calling for jail time. An attack in the MSU locker room. One incredibly loud (and audible on TV) "F*** You, State" chant that probably had Paula Weston submitting another "OMG SUCH BAD FANS" column before the game even ended. That's not the way a hockey game should end.
For those who missed it, MVictors has the video. The attack--and let's be real, that's what it was--occurs around the 45 second mark and it was worse than what you can see in that clip. Basically, Corey Tropp was bringing the puck through center ice in the waning moments of the 5-3 Michigan victory. Steve Kampfer stepped up and smoked him with a perfectly clean check (and that's not the homer in me talking...it was 100% clean and I don't think any FYS fan would debate that).
Andrew Conboy (more on him later) then chased Kampfer and did his best Todd Bertuzzi impression, sucker-punching him from behind. As Kampfer lay motionless on the ice, Tropp made it to him and unleashed a BC-two-hander into his neck area. Scrums broke out (though I don't think the Michigan players realized how awful the incident was, or we would've had an all-out brawl on our hands). Tropp was assessed a five-minute major for slashing, two ten minute misconducts, and a double game-disqualification, which carries with it a minimum three-game suspension. Conboy got a double minor for roughing, which surely will be increased.
After laying on the ice for several minutes, Kampfer finally skated off with the help of David Wohlberg and Chad Langlais, but was taken to the hospital strapped to a gurney with his neck in a brace. I don't think anyone wants anything more than to hear that Steve Kampfer is ok. As scary as the situation already is, it's made worse by the fact that Kampfer is coming off a well-documented assault, in which he suffered head and neck injuries.
In the post-game handshake line, Tim Miller was escorted to the locker room after reportedly jawing with FYS head coach Rick Comley.
In the aftermath, there was an incident in the FYS locker room. The Ann Arbor News reported that a man attacked Comley, but Mike Spath posted that it was Corey Tropp who was the target. Police were called and not a whole lot else is known. Rumors are out there as to who the man is--Comley said it was "a parent"--and if they're true, while you'd like to see a better reaction, and depending on what took place (no details have emerged yet) it may have been over the line, I sure as hell can't say that I wouldn't have done the same thing. I can't imagine what it must be like to see a kid (your kid?) end up in a neck brace for weeks after an assault, have him come all the way back, and then have him get brutally attacked again just a couple of months later.
As for my opinion on things, I think it was a disgusting display. Conboy has already proven to be a no-talent thug. I think it's hysterically funny that he only got four minutes, but despite the incompetence of their on-ice officials, I have faith that the conference will be passing down a suspension of some sort. Honestly, if I were FYS I would take the opportunity to regain a wasted scholarship and do what St. Cloud did to his brother: boot him from school.
He's a talentless hack, who was pretty much hated by FYS fans before tonight because of his constant dip-shit penalties. Guys like him don't belong in college hockey. Comley stated that he felt like Conboy was probably going to do something dumb when he came out of the penalty box for the last shift, but he "couldn't pull him off the ice". If you've got a kid that is that big of a loose cannon--who you can predict will do something this flat-out retarded--then you don't need him on the roster. Do the right then and send that punk packing, Comley.
As for Tropp, he doesn't have a history of being a dirty player. He lost his mind, and he reacted in a horrifically stupid way. He deserves a suspension well beyond the three games the on-ice officials assessed him with. I don't think it would be unreasonable to sit him the rest of the year. He slashed an injured player in the neck/head, and whether he meant to hurt him or he was just reacting, he certainly did it with the recklessness to cause serious injury. With the crackdown on shots to the head, it can't be ignored. While the video wasn't nearly as shocking as what Chris Simon has done in the past, it was really dangerous and has no place in the game. I'm not sure Tropp should have any place in the game for a good long while, either. Then again, it might be a worse punishment to make him keep suiting up for that sorry-sack team.
I'm not sure how I feel about criminal charges being brought against the players for incidents like this. I do think people are way too quick to suggest it in a lot of cases. I've always been of the opinion that it has to be grossly negligent and completely outside the scope of the game to warrant even consideration. I'm not the person to ask if this incident fit the bill. I will say that I don't think what Conboy and Tropp did is any different than what Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore. And I pray to God that Kampfer has a happier outcome than Steve Moore did.
Tell me how what they did to Kampfer is any different than this:
At least Bertuzzi had the decency to challenge Moore to a fight first, before he sucker-punched him when Moore refused. Conboy just blindsided him. He's a complete coward and Tropp is every bit as big of a gutless chump.
Also to blame for this incident--though certainly not nearly as much as the players themselves--are the on-ice officials, Sergott and Hall, who let the game get completely out of hand. They called a terrible game, emotions were running high on both sides, and they made it worse by incensing both teams.
The first major mistake was when Travis Turnbull was taken down on his way to the net. Turnbull slid into the goal, where Brandon Gentile gave him a two-handed shove to the face and kept pushing. Turnbull couldn't do much fighting back, since he was trapped in the net. He went bonkers when he finally got up. The officials evened-up the penalties.
The other big problem was toward the end of the game (and it resulted in Conboy being in the box before the incident occurred). Conboy had Llewellyn pinned against the boards down behind the Michigan net as the play came out to center ice. He then popped Llewellyn in the face with an official looking right at it. No call. Llewellyn retaliated about ten seconds later by drilling Conboy when he didn't have the puck. The result: Both players were sent to the box. Conboy was pissed because he got called for a penalty for doing nothing (even though he should've been called earlier). Then he came out and attacked Kampfer.
That was the tip of the iceberg though. Palushaj slew-footed Palmisano. Langlais was called for tripping when a FYS player fell a full two seconds after Langlais's stick was anywhere near him. Kampfer was sent off for a really weak roughing penalty, and they returned the favor to Sturges a few minutes later. If they were calling it tight (with the penalties on Kampfer and Sturges) to keep control, they really got away from it later in the game.
I don't think I buy the outrage directed at Comley. I don't believe it for a second that he sent those guys to attack Kampfer and he was fairly stand-up about the incident after the game. He apologized to Red Berenson, and, I can't find the link, but he had some pretty strong words about the lack of intelligence involved with the attack. If he really wants to apologize, he'll at least double whatever suspension the CCHA imposes. I do think that if he really believed that Conboy would do something stupid when he re-entered the play, he needs to have better control of his players. Sent a signal to the box that you want him back on the bench after his penalty is up. They do things like that all the time for strategic reasons. But the bigger issue is why you have a knucklehead like that on your roster.
As for the game itself, Michigan completely dominated. Late in the game, Fox Sports had the scoring chances at 29-7 Michigan. We outshot them 51-21 and the game was only close due to a 15-second stretch on a BS 4-on-4, and a horrible giveaway by Travis Turnbull.
As was the case last night, Matt Rust got the scoring started. This time it took just 36 seconds. Aaron Palushaj fed him, Rust walked in, pulled it cross-crease, and beat Palmisano.
Kampfer made a gorgeous backhand pass to Turnbull on a 3-on-2 and Turnbull roofed it up off the water bottle to give Michigan a 2-0 lead. After a great save by Palmisano on Hagelin, Hogan returned the favor and robbed Gazely. FYS went buck after the play was over, Rowe came flying in and leaped into a pair of Michigan players. Somehow we got the extra two. I'm all for putting one team short-handed after a big scrum, but it helps if the correct team ends up short-handed. Hagelin had the best chance on the FYS power play, batted a pass from Matt Rust out of the air on a 2 on 1.
The power play finally got one late in the period. Brandon Burlon uncorked a shot through traffic to put Michigan up 3-0 heading into intermission. Miller and Lebler both set screens. I don't think Palmisano had a chance to see that one.
Langlais was incredulous after the penalty they called on him early in the second period. As I said, he got his stick on the FYS player's skate. He didn't knock him off stride, and then a full two seconds later, the FYS player lost an edge and fell. Sergott saw that as a penalty. That was big because Sprague took a penalty a few moments later. Instead of a Michigan power play, we were playing 4 on 4 and FYS scored twice.
Schepke scored his fourth in five games against Michigan this season with a shot that beat Hogan from the top of the circle. It was a nice shot, but Hogan would probably like another shot at stopping that one. Then off the faceoff, FYS was able to hit a streaking Andrew Rowe, who got past Greg Pateryn. He popped it in and just like that it was a hockey game again.
Michigan appeared to regain their 2-goal lead a few minutes later. Several Wolverines raised their sticks and the play was reviewed. It looked as if the puck was headed in, but it hit a FYS defenseman who was lying in the crease. Kivisto then gloved the puck while it was on the goalline and slid it underneath Palmisano. I'm not sure how long you have to have your glove on the puck to warrant a penalty shot. He didn't have it on there very long, but he did glove the puck while it was in the crease.
The next shift, Michigan hit the goalpost and I started to get worried that we were going to find a way to lose this one. I was catching the game on the DVR, and all I knew was that a friend called me after the game (to talk about the incident, of which I was unaware at this point). I figured I wouldn't get a call after a win, so I immediately assumed the worst.
Palushaj went to the box for hooking. He got his stick under Leveille's arm, and Leveille clamped down on it and then flopped like his name was Robbie Earl. It was a hook, but Frenchy definitely helped that one along. On the PK, Wohlberg stole the puck, tried to stuff it in, and got cross-checked, negating the rest of the FYS power play.
We went into the intermission up 3-2 and outshooting them 37-12.
And just 12 seconds into the third, Carl Hagelin was at it again. Rust hit him streaking down the wing and he threw it into the net off a defenseman to put Michigan back up by a couple of goals. FYS had no answer for Michigan's speed this weekend and Hagelin took advantage of it. He can flat out fly. By the way, that play was really close to being offside. The replays were inconclusive, but when I saw it live, I thought he was off. Hagelin's foot was blocked by a player's helmet on what would've been the best angle. But after the call on Langlais that indirectly led to two goals (unless you think FYS had it in them to score a pair of shorties on one shift when they have 1 SHG all year), I'm not feeling sorry for them about anything.
The 2-goal lead was short-lived, however, because Travis Turnbull threw a pass up the middle where it was intercepted and deposited in the back of the net by Henderson.
Chris Summers gave the Wolverines yet another two-goal lead with a shot from the point. Palmisano was piiiiiiiiiissed about that one, and he probably had a point. Palushaj was knocked down going to the net and when he got to his feet it appeared as if he slew-footed the FYS goalie. Palmisano got back up and was square to Summers, but there probably should have been a penalty called on that one. Then again, there probably should've been a penalty called on the guy who took Palushaj down as well.
Miller went to the box about halfway through the third and didn't look all that happy about it. I think he got hit low (clipping anyone?) and reacted poorly, but we didn't see a replay. Regardless, we killed the penalty without too much trouble.
Turnbull then went to the box for pushing a FYS player into the goal. Because they were really consistent about calling those. At least 3 Michigan players were hauled down going to the net, Travis Turnbull was hit into the net and then pummelled, and nothing resulted in penalties. This did. And Turnbull was rightfully upset about it. Wohlberg and Miller did a great job killing that one off.
Then came the Llewellyn/Conboy incident. They called Conboy for unsportsmanlike conduct for yapping at Llewellyn after the hit. Because that was a lot worse than punching him in the face for no reason, which went uncalled ten seconds earlier.
Palmisano kept the game within reach when he stoned Hagelin on a breakaway and then stopped Caporusso on the follow-up.
The players came out of the box and then all hell broke loose.
It wasn't the best game we've ever played--there were a lot of awful turnovers in our own end--but any win in a rivalry game is a good one. I have to give all the credit in the world to our penalty killers. FYS had 7 power plays in the game and on those power plays, Michigan actually outshot the Spartans 4-2. Yes, they had 2 shots on goal in 11:43 of power play time. That's absolutely incredible.
Lebler needs to stop taking stupid penalties. When things are so competitive that Ben Winnett and Brandon Naurato are healthy scratches, you can't be good for something stupid every game if you want to stay in the lineup. With the way Fardig, Glendening, and Ciraulo are playing, I don't see them coming out of the lineup in the near future. His charge two minutes into the game just wasn't the type of play he needs to make.
Palmisano was really, really good for FYS. He made 46 saves and a lot of them were of the grade-A variety. We managed 5 goals solely because you can't possibly stop them all when the chances are of that quality. We had twenty-nine scoring chances. And that was before a couple we had on the 5-on-3 at the end of the game. I kind of wish the game could've been extended long enough for Tropp's penalty to be served. It would've been nice to hang another couple goals on their asses.
But anyway, the students put it best. Fuck you, State. Enjoy last place, you pricks. They're in the basement by themselves after this weekend, and the only reason they're not further out of the cellar is because of shootout points.
As for Michigan, they took care of business. With OSU's loss to WMU tonight and UNO's loss to Miami, we're in a tie with both of those teams for 4th place, just two points behind Alaska (who lost in a shootout to NMU) and four back of Miami. We have four games in hand on Alaska and two in hand on UNO and the Dynasty.
Next up are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who haven't lost since October 25th. That is a huge, huge series. More on that later in the week.
In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed--say a prayer if you do that kind of thing--for Steve Kampfer. I can't believe this happened to him again....
Edit: Still no news on Kampfer. MVictors has photos that show things a little better than the video clips that are out there so far. Though you don't get a great appreciation for the violence with which Tropp swung his stick. I still don't know how you do that to a defenseless player. I'm really curious to see the CCHA and FYS reaction to this.