HAMILTON, ON – There was a compelling storyline Friday night in Hamilton, with local son Marc Hagel in town with the visiting Lake Erie Monsters to face off against brother Kyle Hagel and the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, the 100+ friends and Hagel family members in attendance weren’t in for much of a game, as Lake Erie took it over quickly with a 4-0 advantage which they nursed to a 6-2 victory at the final horn.
The game started off on a sour note, as Joey Tenute ran Joey Hishon into the boards behind the goal just 13 seconds after the opening buzzer. Hishon lay on the ice for a long while, as Daniel Maggio dropped the gloves with Tenute, pummeling soundly before Jarred Tinordi stepped in to defend the game’s other Hamilton native. Five minute majors to Tenute and Maggio cancelled each other out, but it didn’t matter when seconds later a John Negrin pointshot squeaked through a crowd of bodies before beating starter Dustin Tokarski cleanly.
That first goal would open the floodgates for the Monsters, as defensive lapse after defensive lapse – notably coming from Joe Stejskal – ended up behind Tokarski. First a miscommunication and poor coverage between Stejskal and Peter Merth gave Luke Walker time and space alone in front of Tokarski and an easy tap-in. Then it was an open Andrew Agozzino taking a Tomas Vincour one-time pass and burying it into the empty side of the cage. Finally an individual effort by Paul Carey ended Tokarski’s night, as a pretty little move left the open half of the goal empty for his picking. The only thing the crowd had to cheer about in the first was when Marc Hagel was announced as collecting an assist on Carey’s tally.
A 4-0 Monsters lead did expand the brother factor in the game, as Jacob Gervais-Chouinard stepped in to relieve Tokarski, making his AHL debut. His brother, Joel Chouinard, is a Monsters’ defenseman who was playing in his ninth game of the season.
The second period saw little action, as Lake Erie sat back on their lead, and Hamilton couldn’t muster any offense until the final six minutes, when the team’s best chance came on an Olivier Archambault toe-drag in the slot which was stopped by Calvin Pickard.
Unfortunately, any momentum that may have been built by the home side was quashed just 24 seconds into the third when Agozzino batted a rebound past Gervais-Chouinard to put the visitors up five. They would add one more for good measure, when a Vincent Arsenault shot was popped up by Hamilton’s rookie netminder, and Dean Strong was first on the loose puck with only an empty net in front of him.
While the overall game was a disappointment for those in the crowd, the Hagel clan in attendance would get to see the other brother etch his name on the scoresheet as well. A solo effort by Kyle Hagel had him put a puck between a defender’s legs, skate around him, and fire a shot over a fallen Pickard, breaking the keeper’s shutout bid with his second tally – and first at home – on the season.
With just under five minutes to play, a Michael Bournival shot squeaked through Pickard to make the score 6-2, but it could be read as a mere footnote in the overall game story. One Danny Kristo offensive zone hooking penalty later, and the ugly outing was in the books.
No doubt it was a game to be forgotten for most – and this under the watchful eyes of the full Habs’ brass including Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins, Martin Lapointe, Patrice Brisebois, and Larry Carriere – but a night that won’t be forgotten for the Hagel brothers. “I had 70 tickets out, and Marc might have had a couple more, but those are just tickets we got for our family. There are probably more people we knew who got their own tickets,” said Kyle on a big homecoming for the pair. “[Marc] had a good performance. He looks like a really solid pro. I’m proud of him, and I can’t way to see how his career unfolds.”
Hagel being notably the resident enforcer on the Bulldogs’ roster, was there ever a thought of dropping the gloves with his brother? “He came up to me when we were down 4-0 and said, ‘Are you looking for a spark?’ Yeah! I am! And he just shakes his head at me. I don’t know. A lot of people have asked us that. Would it ever happen? Conceivably it could, but it’s not something we would plan. Maybe later down the road in our career if he was having a bad game and needed to prove himself to a coach to stay in the line-up, of course I’d do it for him.” It is that giving attitude which made Hagel the Bulldogs’ nominee for AHL Man of the Year.