Growing up in Minnesota, every hockey player dreams about going to the state tournament. Some players are so desperate to get there they end up literally going down swinging.
Last Thursday a bench-clearing brawl broke out at the end of the Bloomington Jefferson-Holy Angels section semifinal, and Saturday night the section semifinal between Eden Prairie and Benilde-St. Margaret's featured several full-blown fistfights with less than a second left in that game.
No suspensions were handed out for the Jefferson-Holy Angels scrum, but Eden Prairie will be without two of its best scorers and one of its top defensemen for its section final tilt Wednesday against Minnetonka. It beat Benilde 1-0.
"For 50 minutes and 50 seconds that was probably one of the greatest high school hockey games ever," said Eden Prairie Head Coach Lee Smith, who added the two teams have a fierce rivalry and most of the players know each other.
The teams played each other seven times over the last two seasons, and Eden Prairie knocked Benilde out of the playoffs last year too.
All hell broke loose when Eden Prairie junior captain Michael Graham took the puck to the wall to close out the game, and according to Smith, a Benilde player took a run at Graham in an attempt to dislodge the puck.
"I don't blame the Benilde player for trying to get the puck off the wall, they're playing for their season, but the intent of the hit wasn't real pure," says Smith. "I wouldn't call it dirty; crossing the line would be a good term for what it was."
Marc Sullivan, #20, and Riley Argetsinger, #8, the team's third and fourth-leading scorers, respectively, can clearly be seen throwing haymakers in the resulting chaos. Defenseman Louie Roehl, #3, looks like he wanted no part of the brawl but will be suspended anyway because he left the bench prematurely.
The video from the Jefferson-Holy Angels melee isn't nearly as good, but it's surprising no one was suspended when it appears both benches cleared.
That's not all. Smith says a Wayzata defenseman "totally went after a Minnetonka player" at the end of those two teams' playoff game last weekend in an attempt "to create something like we had."
"You can coach them as hard as you want and try to tell them, but if their career is over and they're not in a spring sport there's nothing you can do," said Smith. "It needs to be a point of discussion as us high school coaches get together in the offseason."
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