During Paul Fixter’s coaching tenure with the Hershey Bears about a decade ago, he implemented a motto, “Earned, never given.” The phrase captured the minds of his players in effort to spread the message that all positive results on the ice have to be earned, and are rarely handed over on a silver platter.
But unfortunately on Saturday night, a border-line joke of a 3-1 Norfolk Admirals win over the Hershey Bears was more on the given side.
Your highlight of the night was in the second period during a tied 1-1 hockey game. Nate Schmidt appeared to be slew footed in the Hershey offensive end and went down to the ice in a heap of pain. The Admirals’ countered down ice on a 2-on-1 rush, setting the stage for a game-winning goal by Chris Wagner at 14:18 of the period.
To quickly recap the rising action leading to the second period climax, Michael Latta scored Hershey’s lone goal of the night on a first period power play. After an initial shot was blocked, Latta was stationed right place, right time in the slot area to fire home his ninth of the season 9:48 into the game. With his power play tally, Hershey finished the night 1-for-2 when a man-up.
Fourteen seconds shy of the game’s midway mark in the middle frame, Norfolk drew even. After a flubbed clearing attempt by Nicolas Deschamps, Andre Petersson scored his first goal as an Admiral to tie the game.
But from there on out, the game turned into the Jeffrey Ingram show– the lone referee of the game. Two Norfolk minors were called in the first period, and six unanswered Admirals’ power plays closed out regulation.
Referees are human. Humans screw up and make mistakes. But personally I look at how referees respond after a missed call, or a terrible call. Schmidt’s injury and Wagner’s goal was your climax of the game. Neither of the three officials in stripes blew the play dead after contact was made with Schmidt, even though he was down on the ice in pain. That was the correct thing to do by the officials. Since Hershey did not possess the puck, play rightfully continued, and Norfolk happened to score.
The argument by Head Coach Mike Haviland and captain Dane Byers was that the hit was illegal and should have been, at very least a major penalty.
Here’s is where the response by referee Jeffrey Ingram was embarrassing– Haviland is handed an unsportsmanlike minor penalty which was served by Nathan Walker. Obviously we can’t tell what exactly was said by Haviland, but no bench, or any objects went flying onto the ice, and Haviland’s irate behavior was typical of a hockey coach in the heat of a moment.
And after a noticeably blown call, to then call a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s terrible officiating.
Schmidt would not return to the ice, and the penalty parade continued against the Bears. After Byers received a boarding minor at 16:55 of the stanza, Max Friberg scored Norfolk’s lone PPG of the night out of their six, unanswered chances to extend the lead to 3-1.
A lazy dump and chase third period by the Admirals would follow which disrupted any Hershey offensive flow. Ingram whistled Latta for roughing 47 seconds into the third period, and put the whistle into his pocket for the remainder of the game. Most games, minor obstruction penalties tend to even themselves out between both sides, but not this game. Ingram had his opportunities late in the third period with a couple cases of bear hugging along the boards, but showed no interest in stopping play.
On the other hand, Byers was called for a hooking minor at the 20:00 mark of the third period and handed a 10 minute misconduct for the road.
The Bears will be off the next day and hit the ice next on Friday, March 14 in Syracuse.