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FHL hug-and-beer-hockey-fight stunt falls flat; players suspended

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By Sarah Kwak

The scene was familiar to any fan, but particularly to those who know and love the trenches of minor minor-league hockey. Off a third-period draw last Friday — in a game in which the Danville Dashers trailed the Dayton Demonz by four goals with less than 10 minutes to go in their Federal League seasons — Danville forward Matt Puntureri and Dayton center Jesse Felten shed their gloves, elbow pads and helmets and made for center ice. They looked at each other as they deked and danced from there to the far blue line, but when Puntureri made his move to scrap, he did so with outstretched arms. Felten, too, opened his arms wide, and the two hugged it out before a punch was thrown. But that’s not all. Puntureri then reached into his hockey shorts and took out a can of Coors Light, a leftover from the Dashers’ rookie party last week. He cracked it open and, with his arm around Felten while flashing a peace sign, the two skated around the rink in a surprising show of harmony.

On the video of the “hug and beer fight,” which went viral over the weekend, an announcer proclaimed, “I think that was set up.” His ever-astute reasoning proved correct.

“It was my idea, not to brag or anything,” Puntureri said on Monday from his home in Wampum, Pa. “I’m always pulling silly antics like this, whether it be some celebrations or anything like that.”

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  • Published On Apr 01, 2014
  • Worst. Hockey. Fight. Ever.

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    By Allan Muir

    That whirring sound you hear is the late Reg Dunlop spinning in his grave.

    Dunlop, of course, was the legendary player/coach played by Paul Newman in Slap Shot who led the scrappy Charlestown Chiefs to a controversial Federal League championship back in 1977. There was a man who appreciated old-time hockey.

    But Reg wouldn’t even recognize today’s Federal League. For one, it’s actually a real thing, not a minor circuit created for a film. And two … well, they appear not to take parts of the game very seriously. Like fighting, for instance.

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  • Published On Mar 30, 2014
  • Video: Dutch hockey brawl involves fans, officials, parents

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    By Allan Muir

    You say you like hockey fights, but just wish there weren’t so many players involved? Then you’ll love this insane video from a Dutch league game between Eindhoven and Geleen. It has everything: elderly fan brawls, off-ice body slams, a goalie scaling the glass, and a referee trying to get off the ice like it’s hot lava but being denied by the rink attendant.

    Everything but, you know, actual hockey players fighting each other.

    According to eurohockey.com, the zaniness occurred early in the third period of a playoff match when a hard hit on the ice set off some simmering unpleasantness in the stands.

    We’ll let eurohockey take it from there: “The father of ref Ramon Sterkens and Eindhoven back-up goalkeeper Michael Sterkens was hit … that set both of them off. Ramon tried to get off the ice to help his father, while Michael climbed up onto the glass.”

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  • Published On Mar 20, 2014
  • Goalie fight alert: AHL netminders square off at center ice

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    By Eli Bernstein

    For those who were disappointed by NHL refs putting the kibosh on Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj’s attempted goalie scrap the other night, here’s some advice: If you want to see men wearing comically large pads throw punches at each other, go find the nearest AHL franchise.

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  • Published On Jan 25, 2014
  • Canucks coach John Tortorella held back from Flames’ locker room after brawl

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    By Michael Blinn

    Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella had to be restrained from going into the Calgary Flames’ locker room after a heated first period on Saturday.

    A full-scaled donnybrook ensued after Flames coach Bob Hartley submitted his starting lineup of Kevin Westgarth, Chris Butler and Brian McGrattan, a trio not necessarily known for its goal-scoring prowess. Tortorella responded by sending out Dale Weise, Tom Sestito and Kellan Lain, a threesome with a similar pugilistic skill set.

    As soon as the puck dropped to open the game, a line brawl broke out with all 10 skaters joining in the fracas, which resulted in eight ejections and 152 penalty minutes. Tortorella was leaning over his bench toward the visiting Flames, screaming at Hartley, who did not respond.

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  • Published On Jan 19, 2014
  • NHL first quarter winners and losers: Yzerman, Stamkos, Emery and more

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    Ben Bishop and Martin St. Louis

    Goaltender Ben Bishop has been a godsend for the surprising Tampa Bay Lightning. (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    At 20 games, give or take, into the 2013-14 regular season, it can’t hurt to pause for a bit of reflection on what’s come to pass so far.

    We’ve already cast a cold, clear, beady eye at the players who have established themselves as the front-runners for the major NHL awards, so now we’re moved to assess those who have notably stepped up on the ice and in the front office during the early going…and some who were stepped upon.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2013
  • Ray Emery’s beatdown of Braden Holtby won’t help end fighting in the NHL

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    By Allan Muir

    What a great day it was for the anti-fighting brigade.

    On Friday, Flyers goalie Ray Emery chummed the waters with his vicious assault on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. The one-sided bout sent the small but vocal group (mostly media-based) that is opposed to brawling into a frenzy of grandstanding and virtual ink spilling, not just about the beating, but also about the NHL’s inability, or unwillingness, to sanction Emery for his dirty deed.

    The indignation pretty much leapt off of pages. On Twitter, Kevin Dupont, of The Boston Globe wrote, “NHL Player Safety has made huge strides last 2 yrs. It cannot allow Emery to skate on his Holtby beatdown. Travesty.”

    “I love hockey, but the disgrace in Philly last night is a perfect example of why, to millions of people, the NHL is not a serious pro sport,” offered Steve Maich, the publisher and editor of Sportsnet.

    They’re right to be appalled by this incident, of course. As far as optics go, watching one man pummel an entirely unwilling opponent is about as bad as it gets. Even a fighting advocate like myself is not conflicted on this point.

    GALLERY: Wild NHL goalie fights

    Emery vs. Holtby wasn’t what Brian Burke would have called a good fight. It wasn’t about accountability or The Code. It was about one frustrated man who had allowed four goals on 15 shots taking out his embarrassment on another player who wanted no part of it.

    So yeah, it was a “bad” fight. And it might even precipitate a rule change, much the way Matt Cooke’s head shot on a defenseless Marc Savard led to new guidelines dictating where a player can and cannot be hit.

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  • Published On Nov 04, 2013
  • No need to ban fighting in the NHL, its worst aspects are already fading away

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    George Parros and Colton Orr fight

    Keeping an enforcer like George Parros or Colton Orr is proving to be costly for teams. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty)

    By Sam Page

    If you’re considering entering the NHL’s great fighting debate, save your breath for the eulogy — fighting’s already dying.

    While head injury concerns fail to compel the powers that be, advanced player evaluation tools and a renewed emphasis on puck possession have already begun quietly eradicating hockey’s violent game within the game.

    First, it’s worth delineating between fighting writ large and the rehearsed fighting that hockey fans find grievous in light of George Parros’ recent concussion. Most fans, I suspect, support fighting as the expression of a genuine and building frustration toward a rival team, or as a means of karmic retribution on the NHL’s worst pests.

    MUIR: Parros incident reignites debate

    But it’s the staged kind of fighting that Parros and the rest of the league’s supergoons practice — in which two mostly emotionless or sometimes even chummy behemoths add a fresh layer of scar tissue to each other’s heads out of ritual observance — that seems so outmoded.

    GALLERY: Notorious enforcers and goons

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  • Published On Oct 10, 2013
  • Horrifying injury to George Parros won’t affect the fighting debate

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    George Parros of the Montreal Canadiens hits the ice face first during a fight with Colton Orr.

    Montreal enforcer George Parros hit the ice face-first and suffered a concussion. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    The story out of Montreal last night should have been about James Reimer making his case to be the starting goalie for the Maple Leafs, or the beast-mode performance from Lars Eller, which seemed to hint at what might lie ahead this season for the Canadiens’ promising young center.

    Instead, last night’s season opener between Toronto and Montreal was defined by a grim injury to Canadiens enforcer George Parros that left the veteran forward prone on the ice and sucked the air out of what had, up to that point, been a rollicking Bell Centre.

    Early in the third period of the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 win, Parros was doing what he gets paid to do: trading punches with Toronto tough guy Colton Orr. It was their second fight of the night. As the brawl wound down, Orr lost his balance and fell to the ice. On the way down, he grabbed Parros’ jersey and pulled him down. It was the sort of tumble you see all the time at the end of a punch-up, when both parties are usually exhausted. Only this time, Parros was unable to get his arms up and brace for impact. He fell hard, unprotected, face-first on the ice.

    At first, Parros appeared to be unconscious. Soon, he was moving. The nine-year veteran attempted to get up after receiving medical attention, but the trainers advised him to lay back down as they called for a stretcher. Parros was then taken to a hospital, where it was reported that doctors had diagnosed him with a concussion. It’s unknown at this point how long he’ll be out of the Canadiens lineup. He is, however, out of the hospital.

    It was a horrifying moment. And it’s not surprising that it quickly ignited another chapter in the endless debate on the place of fighting in hockey.

    But as bad as it looked — and as much as the anti-fighting advocates might hope otherwise — this incident won’t change anything.

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  • Published On Oct 02, 2013
  • VIDEO: Bench-clearing QMJHL brawl

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    By Allan Muir

    It’s been a long time since fight fans have been treated to a good, old-fashioned bench-clearing brawl, but we got one on Wednesday night after the buzzer sounded to end Game 4 of the heavily hyphenated Baie-Comeau Drakkar-Blainville-Boisbriand Armada QMJHL semifinal playoff series.

    This one started not with a bang, but with a gesture. Though it’s hard to tell from the video, Cédric Paquette of the victorious Armada taunted the Drakkar’s Raphaël Bussières with a dismissive wave as he headed off the ice. No surprise that it was not well received. As the two started jostling, the Armada players who had been skating toward winning goaltender Étienne Marcoux changed direction and headed to the scuffle. The Drakkar then hopped the boards in search of dance partners. The Armada obliged, and the next thing you know, we have a full-on brawl, highlighted by all four goalies squaring off.

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  • Published On Apr 25, 2013


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