Saturday, 10 February 2018

Old-Fashioned Slobberknocker

With fighting declining in every league as the emphasis on skill and speed is increased, the classic line brawl has fallen into the extinction category in hockey. Line brawls were fairly common in the 1970s with the Broad Street Bullies and Slap Shot getting the attention over their pugilistic themes, but we've seen the numbers consistently decline to where we are today where they are as rare as fifty-goal seasons. Unless you were in Toledo, Ohio tonight.

The Kansas City Mavericks were visiting the Toledo Walleye tonight in ECHL action, and things went off the rails after Connor Crisp scored his third goal of the night and fourth Walleye goal of the evening. The Mavericks, not enjoying a 4-0 deficit, decided to take matters into their own hands and all hell broke loose.
Wow. The ECHL disciplinarians are gonna be busy. Let's start with the vicious cross-checks delivered by Garrett Klotz of the Mavericks to Toledo's AJ Jenks while he was on the ice. It was a free-for-all after that as players paired off in the defence of their teammates, and it ratcheted up another few notches when Mavericks goaltender Mason McDonald skated in to share in the festivities. That would only set off more fireworks as Toledo netminder Matej Machovsky skated the length of the ice to square off against McDonald. They traded blows until they agreed to end their gentleman's quarrel, and it seemed like all was done once players were separated and escorted to their respective benches and penalty boxes.

Note that I said "seemed like all was done".

With thirty seconds left in the game, caution was once again thrown to the wind.
Another cross-check to the face, another line brawl, and officials simply trying keep the peace while avoiding punches thrown. There was no goalie fight this time, though, as both McDonald and Machovsky were assessed game misconducts for their involvement in the early fracas, so Kansas City's Kent Nusbaum and Toledo's Pat Nagle were able to finish out the game in their respective blue paint.

For the record, Kansas City picked up a mere 65 minutes in penalties on the night while Toledo was assessed 55 minutes in total penalty minutes. Toledo has three minor penalties up until the start of the first brawl while Kansas City only had a pair of penalties. According to Mark Monroe's article in The Blade,
Walleye coach Dan Watson called the situation "absolutely embarrassing."

"Their coaching staff should be embarrassed. Their organization should be embarrassed," Watson said. "Klotz should be suspended for the rest of the year. I think he should be done. It's unacceptable. Our league is trying to get rid of the image from the 1980s and 1990s. If this is going to continue, it won't we'll continue to get a bad rap."
I don't know about it being embarrassing if you're a fan. That's old-time hockey, as the boys would say, as everyone on the ice got involved. Granted, it's probably not what the league wants to see when it comes to promoting its product, but you have to admit that everyone sits up and watches when there's a line brawl that features a goalie fight.

Reggie Dunlop would have been proud!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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