Sunday, 5 December 2010

Mass brawl halts match

There were extraordinary scenes at the Skydome last night after the game between Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers was halted for about 20 minutes after a mass brawl involving not just the players on the ice, but all the players on the bench.

The atmosphere was tense between the two Midlands rivals, particularly after Blaze secured a 1-0 lead. Net minder Jaeger had taken an injury in the warm up and the Panthers went after him but he got no protection from the referee. The Panthers showed their frustration more and more, but the officials failed to get a grip on the game. Their net minder was at the centre of a number of incidents.

In the second period a series of fights culminated in Brad Cruikshank being sent off (a rare decision). As the Blaze player was escorted off the rink by a lino, he suddenly broke free, speed skated across to the charm merchant in the Panthers net and threw a punch.

Mayhem then broke out as both benches poured on to the rink. One player tried to stay out of the action in the sin bin, but net minder Jaeger went in to attack him. The referee stood calmly to one side listing names in his notebook.

At an earlier game one Blaze player went to hospital and had to have a subsequent operation after a fight. On this occasion no one seemed to be badly hurt, although players had their jerseys and vests ripped off. There did not even seem to be any blood on the rink, an event which usually demands the attendance of rink maintenance consisting of two bored teenagers with a bucket and a shovel.

Eventually the teams were persuaded to leave the rink. A list of penalties was read out, Cruikshank being banned for two matches. The Blaze net minder, Jaeger, was also sent off and the youthful Murdy who generally gets very little game time was brought on in his place.

When the game eventually resumed, tensions remained high and another brawl broke out. A Blaze player took his opportunity to get even with the lino who received a few punches. The guy wearing the prison shirt did not look happy as he escorted him off the rink and a game ban was announced for 'abusing officials'. I think that something more would happen in football if you gave the lino a few punches.

There was a large away crowd in attendance and, although they were in their own area, there was no physical segregation. Apart from one idiot throwing a plastic bottle on to the rink, and an announcement that anyone using foul language would be ejected, there was no crowd trouble at all, even though people can take beer to their seats. At the end of the match Blaze fans applauded the Panthers. If there had been this sort of fighting at a football match, there would surely have been fighting in the crowd as well.

It was interesting to hear the crowd announcer state that the fighting was being streamed on the internet and that spectators should use Facebook and Twitter to tell their friends about what was going on. Anyone who had not got a season ticket was urged to buy one. In fact ice hockey is what economists call a 'bundled good': you get to watch the hockey, but you usually get to see some fights as well.

Despite Murdy staying up way beyond his bedtime, the youngster was a lion in goal and Blaze went home 2-1 winners.

You can watch a video of the fighting here: Fight

This was the first full bench clearance I have seen since I started to watch hockey.


Anonymous said...

Well you certainly get your full value for money, whether its Ice Hockey, Boxing or Free fighting.
I remember seeing an all action game in NY many years ago. Although I have never been to a game here in the UK. Maybe a New Years resolution.

Anonymous said...

I have to say i find it strange that anyone can enjoy a 'sport' where violence on the pitch (ice) is the norm, and is seen as part of the fun.
Yet if the same level of violence occured at a football match, with the same regularity. There would be condemnation of such behaviour.

Wyn Grant said...

Part of it is a bit like wrestling. I don't think the fights are staged, but there is an awful lot of handbags at six places with players squaring up and throwing punches that miss. But some do connect. You are right that if the same thing happened in football there would be a public outcry, but football is much more in the public gaze and thus provides good copy for some newspapers that want to tut tut.

Luv Robin said...

There is a lot of debate about fighting in North America, where hockey is enormous, and certainly in the Canada Hockey League there has been a conscious effort to rid the game of players who are simnply there to fight. Last year a player was (accidentally)killed in an fight in a semi-pro men's game in Toronto, but in general as Wyn says the players are so heavily armoured little damage can be done and it is a bit of a pantomime. Indeed goaltenders wear so much padding they can barely move and are usually left to fight each other. I suspect Canadians would react to an outfield player attacking a goaltender with laughter, and the player involved would spend a long time trying to live it down..

Bob Miller said...

Fighting has been a part of hockey since day one. Tensions build during a game and eventually somebody loses it. Traditionally, the theory has been, let them have a go, wear it off, serve their penalty and let's get on with it. However, there is a very strong lobby to ban fist-fights from hockey and there is certainly much less of it in the National Hockey League than in year's past. Hockey is a tough, fast, highly skilled game. It is the only game I know where substitutions occur as the game progresses, which serves to maintain the pace and momemtum on a continuous basis. As far as fights being staged or any sort of pantomine, forget that. Throwing a punch while standing on skates is not the easiest thing to do and quite often very few solid blows ever get landed because of it. However, I have seen more than enough flattened noses and fat eyes to realize some guys are better at it than others! As far as striking a linesman or referee is concerned, that is a serious offense and would normally be subjected to a very lengthy suspension or possibly a ban from ever playing the game at all. The type of hockey and the caliber of player plying their trade in English professional hockey is not of the highest caliber, so I would expect there are some odd characters plying their trade in that league. Perhaps it's because I have watched the game my entire life that I do not consider the odd fight between two players to be the end of the world, but uncontrolled mayhem and bench clearing brawls is less than appealing.

Wyn Grant said...

Just to update, net minder Jaeger had his suspension rescinded and was allowed to play at the Vipers (who have no sting) last night. This was a bit of a surprise given that he charged into the sin bin and started a fight with a guy who was trying to stay away from it all. Perhaps Murdy's mum said he had got to stay behind and do his homework (he's probably uni age to be fair). There is also uncertainty about what happened to one of the linos. The match certainly ended with just one lino, but it is uncertain whether he never re-appeared for the second period or was injured in the brawl: certainly one lino went down under a ruck of players. I think the league is a bit embarrassed about the referee who comes from Reading which says it all really.