Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins rookie defenseman Joe Morrow wasn't entirely surprised to find himself fighting a veteran enforcer during the second period of Saturday's game against the Hershey Bears.
After all, he said, the matchup is a longstanding rivalry and things tend to happen when two teams face each other 12 times in a season.
The fight occurred when Morrow stood up Matt Clackson at the blue line as he tried to enter the offensive zone. Clackson took exception and dropped his gloves, prompting Morrow to do the same for the first fight of his pro career.
The guy plays a physical role and likes to get in people's faces. What happens, happens, Morrow said. A little fight. It's bound to happen one of these times when you play Hershey -- which is a rivalry and things get heated like that.
I don't expect anything less next game either.
Neither does Bobby Farnham, who received two fighting majors in the 4-1 loss. He said the incident with Clackson triggered the Penguins to ramp up their physical play.
I thought we came back hard and let them know we won't take that. Joe's one of our more skilled defensemen and Clackson is known for fighting. Joe finished his hit and I don't really know why (Clackson) was going after him, Farnham said.
When asked about his team's physical play in the Hershey game, head coach John Hynes simply said the games have been competitive. And even though the Penguins have lost all three meetings to the Bears this season, and have a rematch coming up this week in Hershey, Hynes isn't consumed with the rivalry or the potential for bad blood to carry over.
I'm just glad we can play on Wednesday. We had a good week, didn't end it the way we wanted so it's just nice to get amidweek game in and not have to sit on it for days, Hynes said. It's not so much about Hershey, it's more about our team, our game and getting better.
Morrow agreed, said Wednesday's opponent doesn't matter as much as the need for the Penguins to bring their A game and right the ship.
As for Farnham, who has had four fights in his first six games as a Penguin, it's important to come out hard against the Bears on Wednesday and set the tone physically. Let the physical players play their roles he said, and that will allow skilled guys to do their job.
You have to find a balance. They're obviously a rival and there's been some bad blood, which creates quite an atmosphere in Hershey, Farnham said. Everything's still boiling so it's nice that we get to go right back there. We lost three times to them this year, so it would be great to get our first one in Hershey.