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Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs Stake Claim to AHL’s Most Heated Rivalry

AHL Rockford Grand Rapids brawl

Charles Leclaire – USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night’s meeting between AHL Midwest Division rivals, the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) and Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) set several records, and reaffirmed that the two have the most heated rivalry in the Western Conference.

The 11-6 final score helped the Griffins set a franchise record for most goals scored in a game, and was the most scored by any team in an AHL game in over seven years. The two teams also combined for more than 230 penalty minutes (a league-high so far this season), thanks to a bench-clearing brawl in the second period. When the dust had settled, 13 players (eight from Rockford and five from Grand Rapids) had been ejected, and it is likely that suspensions are forthcoming. The two teams had met in four heated contests (over 400 PIMS prior to Sat.) earlier in the season and things finally came to a boil on Saturday.

After Landon Ferraro scored to put the Griffins up 6-3 in the second period, the IceHogs’ Kyle Beach (pictured above) jumped Grand Rapids’ Riley Sheahan on the ensuing face off, setting off the brawl. Sheahan seemed to be a less than willing participant, and Beach’s continued blows once Sheahan was on the ground, cleared both benches. Goaltenders Carter Hutton (Rockford) and Petr Mrazek (Grand Rapids) also tangled, and it took over 20 minutes for the penalties to be sorted out. Mrazek, Tomas Tatar, Brian Lashoff, Francis Pare and Gleason Fournier were ejected for the Griffins, while the IceHogs saw Beach, Wade Brookbank, Adam Clendening, Rob Flick, Hutton, Kenndal McArdle, Philippe Paradis and Shawn Lalonde booted. Beach was assessed an aggressor and an instigator penalty and will likely face disciplinary action from the league.

Mitch Callahan had a hat trick for the Griffins, and was the only player to score more than once. Of the 17 goals scored in the game, 15 different players found the back of the net. Sheahan, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco, Ferraro, Nathan Paetsch, Jeff Hoggan, Fournier and Adam Almquist scored for Grand Rapids, while Rockford got goals from Beach, Dylan Olsen, Jimmy Hayes, Ben Youds, Peter LeBlanc and Brandon Pirri. It certainly wasn’t a night for great goaltending stats, as four different netminders saw action, each giving up at least three goals. Mrazek and Tom McCollum (who was recalled today to join the Red Wings) each gave up three goals for the Griffins, while Hutton allowed six and Alec Richards five for the IceHogs.

The two teams will meet one final time this season, in Rockford on Feb. 22 – a game that many AHL fans will have their eyes on. These two teams really seem to dislike each other, and with their NHL affiliates also playing in the same division, they are laying the groundwork for a rivalry that will remain heated for years to come.