By Stu Hackel
Perhaps we spoke too soon when we wrote our post celebrating the love-in that was the Winter Classic. Philadelphia police say that after the game on Monday, Flyers fans attacked Rangers fans at the famous Geno’s Steaks, a Philly Cheesesteak landmark, about two miles north of Citizens Bank Park. The police are seeking help identifying the attackers.
One of the Rangers fan, an off-duty Woodbridge, N.J. police officer, who reportedly served in Iraq as a Marine, was taken to the hospital afterward and required stitches. The New York Daily News has identified him as 30-year-old Neal Auricchio.
Philadelphia police may have caught a break when Edward Neary bragged on the Facebook page of the Broad Street Hockey blog that he and his friends committed the attack. On the Broad Street Hockey blog itself, Travis Hughes screen-grabbed Neary’s post.
The attack somewhat echoes the severe beating that Los Angeles Dodgers fans gave a San Francisco Giants fan after the season opener last March in Dodger Stadium’s parking lot. That fan, Brian Stow, an EMS first responder, required a lengthy hospitalization and has not yet fully recovered from his head injuries. (Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated wrote this article about the attack in August).
According to CBSPhilly.com, a bystander captured the post-Winter Classic incident on a cell phone video and posted it on YouTube. However it was very graphic and was taken down. Police then edited the video and have posted the revised version (above) to help them identify the attackers.
CBSPhilly.com also reports that the attack occurred around 7:15 p.m. on Monday after the game. It began, according to police, with some Flyers fans stopping a windowwasher who was walking by them. Capt. Laurence Nodiff of the Philadelphia Police Department explained, “Gave him a couple bucks and said, ‘Hey go over to those Rangers fans and squirt some water in their faces.’ Apparently, he goes over and squirts some water and they jump up and the guy runs away.”
Police said a verbal argument ensued. It quickly escalated when three Flyers fans began beating two Rangers fans, one of whom — the off-duty police officer — was knocked unconscious.
Flyers fan Bridget Glinski of suburban Ardmore, PA told CBSPhilly.com, “I think it’s terrible. I think it looks really bad on Philadelphia and our fans. Yes, there’s rivalry, but it should never come to that.”
John Glinski added, “They definitely should be prosecuted. That should not happen whatsoever. It’s giving our town a bad name.”
Philadelphia police have asked anyone with information to phone them at 215-686-3013.