The Odessa Jackalopes and the Colorado Eagles both went head to head last week in the preseason games for the CHL. All seasoned hockey fans understand that the preseason games are a proving ground for the new players. They want to be seen and make an impression on the coaches watching these all important games. A lasting impression could mean the difference between heading home or landing a spot playing with the team.
Seasoned hockey fans also know that one of the ways these newbies try to get noticed is by the fisticuffs or hockey fights on the ice. Puck handling and skating skills are all well and good, but everyone remembers the tough fighter—the guy who does not back down, even when a larger player is involved.
Saturday night proved to be a memorable night for everyone on and off the ice. The eager players were most definitely sparring and the referees were giving them a little space to strut their proverbial stuff. That is, until the third period, when these sparring sessions got out of hand and everyone wanted in on the action.
Soon everyone was in the penalty box or sent to the showers; and the few left on the bench were impatient to get on the ice to prove their prowess. Unfortunately, one of the Odessa players was injured badly and had to be taken to the hospital. Now, this reporter believes in a little battering back and forth with the players and is even willing to egg them on at times; but in no way is intentionally injuring another player condoned.
Today the Central Hockey League issued their final decisions regarding the ‘hockey game’ on Saturday night.
TEMPE, AZ (October 14, 2010) . . . As a result of failing to complete the game, the Odessa Jackalopes organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money, all of which will be donated on behalf of the Colorado Eagles and the Odessa Jackalopes to the Wilbur's Fund for Women With Breast Cancer in Northern Colorado. Additionally, Odessa head coach Paul Gillis has been suspended three (3) games, to be served during the Jackalopes first three games of the regular season and the Odessa organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for public comments and incidents during the game.
For their part in Saturday’s events, the Colorado Eagles organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for the multiple altercations at the end of the uncompleted game and acting coach for that game, Greg Pankewicz (the team’s assistant coach) has been suspended three (3) games, to be served during the Eagles three regular season visits to Odessa.
Colorado forward Brad MacMillan has been suspended 22 games for his match penalty for attempting to injure a player.
Colorado defenseman George Bradley has been suspended five (5) games for his actions during an altercation and has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for the same infraction.
Colorado defenseman Mario Joly has been suspended four (4) games for leaving the players bench.
The owners of both teams issued a joint statement which included, “It was unfortunate the way this event unfolded. Regretfully, the emotions became very elevated during our preseason contest and an outstanding player was injured. While we cannot change the past, we can only more forward and learn from this incident.”
The Colorado Eagles will hit the ice tonight without Bradley, Joly, and MacMillan, but hopefully with a new regard for their team’s professional standing among the other teams of the Central Hockey League. The new players will continue to vie for a full time job with this team and an intense need for the win, but with a renewed sense of the true nature of the game.
Fans—be prepared for some major fun and excitement this season—it is a whole new ballgame or should I say puckgame?!