Accounts of the hit differ, depending on where it was seen from, but its effect on the game is irrefutable.
Just 3:23 into Adirondack’s 4-2 win over the Albany River Rats on Wednesday, a skirmish of pushing and shoving broke out in the right corner behind the Albany goal. Rats defender Nicolas Blanchard was late to the gathering, but came with some steam into the back of Adirondack’s Patrick Maroon.
Maroon was next seen face-down on the ice, unconcious. Blanchard received five minutes for elbowing and a game misconduct penalty, sending him to the dressing room. Maroon received medical attention, was strapped to a backboard and sent to Albany Medical Center.
As Maroon was carried through the bench area, he moved his left arm. After the game, it was reported he was feeling better, was moving his extremities and undergoing more tests.
Jon Matsumoto won the ensuing faceoff to the right of the Albany goal and, 10 seconds later, had the first assist on Joonas Lehtivuori’s goal, giving the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.
“You know what, you’ve got to make them pay the price for things like that,” Adirondack coach Greg Gilbert said. “Our guys did capitalize on the power play. It would have been nice to get another one, too. It was a hard-fought game. Obviously, the energy was there, the intensity was there, and tomorrow is going to be no different.”
Albany coach Jeff Daniels said he watched a video of the hit.
“It looked from the video that he was knocked out before Blanch got in there,” Daniels said. “Blanch kind of pushed him down.”
He said he would be surprised it the league suspended Blanchard for the hit. Gilbert said it would be a “travesty” if the league did nothing.
“It was a cheap shot,” Gilbert said. “The guy comes in right in on his numbers in the back, and I don’t know if he sucker-punched him from behind, and then he drove his head into the boards. Come on. That’s cowardice, right there.”
The Rats killed off the remaining 4:50 of the penalty, but were flat afterward.
The lone exception was a Zach Boychuk goal to tie the game at the 10:39 mark of the first period. The rookie continued his recent hot streak by slipping the puck through a defenseman’s legs before beating goalie Johan Backlund.
David Laliberte broke the tie at the 15:03 mark in the second period, exhibiting a toughness Gilbert had criticized his players for not having in previous games with the Rats. In front of the crease with his back to the net, Laliberte took a hit from behind and slipped a shot goalward on his way to the ice, sneaking it in to regain the lead.
Adirondack 1 2 1 — 4
Albany 1 0 1 — 2
First Period — 1, Adirondack, Lehtivuori 1 (Matsumoto, Nodl), 3:33 (pp); 2, Albany, Boychuk 10 (Samson, Paiement), 10:39. Penalties — Blanchard, Alb, major-game misconduct (elbowing), 3:23; Bourdon, Adk, major (fighting), 10:49; Angelidis, Alb, major (fighting).
Second Period — 3, Adirondack, Laliberte 5 (Matsumoto, Nodl), 15:03; 4, Adirondack, Mormina 2 (Lehtivuori, Laliberte), 19:17 (pp). Penalties — Clackson, Adk, major (fighting), 8:37; FitzGerald, Alb, major (fighting), 8:37; Clackson, Adk, major (fighting), 18:23; Conboy, Alb, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 18:23; Harrison, Alb (delay of game), 19:00.
Third Period — 5, Albany, Angelidis 5 (Boychuk, McBain), 17:59; 6, Adirondack, Matsumoto 14 (Mormina, Curry), 19:30 (en). Penalties — Laliberte, Adk (hooking), 7:20; Stephenson, Adk (roughing), 10:31; Conboy, Alb, double-minor (roughing). 10:31; McBain, Alb (roughing), 13:51.
Shots on goal — Adirondack 18-14-10 — 42. Albany 9-6-4 — 19.
Power-play opportunities — Adirondack 2 of 6; Albany 0 of 1.
Goalies — Adirondack, Backlund 9-8-0 (19 shots-17 saves); Albany, Peters 11-9-2 (41-38).
A — 4,455. T — 2:23.
Referee — Chris Brown. Linesmen — Steeve Lemay, Mike Emanatian.
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