CHICAGO – Things are getting chippy in the Calder Cup Final.
A fight in the final seconds of Game 2 Sunday night in Charlotte cost the Wolves one of their top scorers.
The AHL suspended Curtis McKenzie one game for his role in the brawl, which didn’t sit well with Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson.
“I’m disappointed in the result and what the league decided to go with. We’ll live with it.”
But what bothered Thompson more was the shot Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci took at McKenzie in his postgame press conference.
“I used to have respect for a guy that played 100 games in the NHL, but he hit a defenseless player four or five times. I just watched the video. He hit him four or five times when he’s on the ice.
“There’s a code in hockey and he should know it and everybody knows it. To hit a defenseless player that many times when he’s down, I hope somebody takes care of what he’s supposed to do from the league’s standpoint.
“That was really bush league.”
“I’m really upset with their coach’s comments,” explained Thompson. “He went after our player. They initiated it and he’s saying it’s a dirty act on a defenseless player. That’s what started the whole melee. They won the game. The game was over. Tip our hats to them. They did a good job. They played a really good game. Then one of their players hit our player from behind on a dirty play. That’s defenseless. The problem was they picked on the wrong guys and as a result one of their players got hurt. If their coach has a problem with it, he can walk down the hall and talk to me – not talk to the players. I’m not going after their players, so don’t go after mine. It’s an issue with me.”
McKenzie won’t suit up for Game 3 Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena.
Keegan Kolesar and the rest of the Wolves will have to pick up the slack, knowing tensions will be high. But, this isn’t the most physical stretch of the playoffs in Kolesar’s mind.
— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) June 2, 2019
“Honestly, GR [Grand Rapids] was probably the roughest series I’ve ever had in my life. That was almost like WWE. There was something going on after every whistle, at the end of every period. There was a scrum everywhere. It’s fun. You remember those games. We have laughs about it after. We obviously did something right coming out of that series to be here. It’s fun. I like playing physical hockey. I like getting in guys faces. I like that chippiness. It gets me in the game more.”