Thursday, January 19, 2012

Corpus Christi Icerays VS. Texas Tornado Line Brawl

During the game on Sunday afternoon between the Corpus Christi Icerays VS. Texas Tornado from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi on Sunday Afternoon. A massive brawl took place near the mid-way point of the third period after an Ice Rays goal by Joe Smereck made it 4-1 at the 7:16 mark of the 3rd period, a massive line brawl that involved players like Skiller Spiller, Connor Burton & Mico Solorzano for the Tornado as well as Phil Pietroniro & Ladislav Hruska for the Ice Rays as well. In addition, they were also a big time screaming match between Texas Tornado Head Coach Tony Curtale & Ice Rays GM Pat Dunn as well on the bench as well.

Here's the Video & Audio
I would definitely expect some suspensions as well as some other punishments as well from this game. Ice Rays beat writer Greg Rajan mentioned this while in a post game interview. "I have absolutely no idea (why it happened)," D'Arrisso said. "I went to the faceoff and (Spiller) didn't say anything to me.

The bad blood also spilled off the ice, with Ice Rays General Manager Patt Dunn engaging in a shouting match with Tornado Head Coach Tony Curtale & Assistant Jason Bloomingburg, who briefly played in Corpus Christi during the Ice Rays Minor-Pro Years.

Other observation's included from Corpus Christi Icerays Head Coach Justin Quenneville as enforcer Mico Solarzano hopped over the boards, as did "one of their meatsticks," he recalled.

According to Corpus Christi Icerays Beat Writer Greg Rajan, he expects the NAHL to make a decision regarding suspensions and punishments either on Thursday or Friday Night. He think that the majority of the punishments will come on the Tornado Side. Especially targeting players like Skiller Spiller who according to a majority of the videos, was one of the major instigators of the fight. Other possible discipline could come towards Texas Tornado Head Coach Tony Curtale & Ice Rays GM Pat Dunn who were shouting at each other during the fight as well.

Regardless of what punishments come out of this. The Tornado will be heading north to Kansas to play the Topeka Roadrunners in a Friday/Saturday Series (both games start at 7:05 PM). For the Corpus Christi Icerays are also on the road for a Friday/Saturday Series against the Wichita Falls Wildcats (Both Games start 7:05 PM).

How will this affect both team season? The Ice Rays are in the middle of a mid-season surge by winning 6 of their last 8 games which included a pair of critical wins against Odessa back on January 12th and 13th which saw their lead over Odessa for 4th Place from 3 to 7 points at the time (It's currently at 9) and they main job at the moment is to hold off the Jackalopes right now for the 4th & Final Playoff spot in the South Division as Topeka is 14 points ahead in 2nd right now.  However for Texas, it maybe a much different story if they can't hold off the Roadrunners this weekend where they have a chance to leap frog the Tornado for 2nd Place if Topeka can get 3 out of a possible 4 points.

It's also crucial for the Tornado to have a strong series to send a message that they are still looking to show that they should be the favorite in a possible 1st Round Playoff Series come early April. If the Tornado can't come out of this series still in 2nd Place, we could start seeing the beginning of the demise of the Tornado this season that could ruin the teams hopes of looking to win the NAHL Robertson Cup on Home Ice for the 2nd time in team history when the tournament comes around in early May.

This is the 2nd massive brawl in Texas in just under a year and I think Texas Hockey Fans know what happened during the Texas HS Hockey Silver Tier Tournament Championship Game between Keller ISD & Arlington Martin last season, click here to see the Video. Especially what happened to Arlington Martin Player Jeff Sorelle who had a massive concussion & a broken jaw.

With hockey getting more & more attention in Texas, the sport can't afford to have incidents like this or many people will think that the players that play hockey in the Southwest are nothing but a bunch of low class thugs and where scouts will put less emphasis on Texas to find top level talent to play in Juniors & Beyond.

When in fact, we have 2 players that have already been signed by NHL Teams in Stefan Noesen (Plymouth Whalers OHL/Ottawa Prospect) & Matt Donovan (Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL/NY Islanders Prospect) as well as two other players who are getting in great position to sign NHL Entry Level Deals after the NCAA Season wraps up with Chris Brown (Univ. of Michigan CCHA/Phoenix Prospect) & Austin Smith (Colgate University ECAC Hockey/Dallas Prospect). In addition to Smith looking to sign with his home town Dallas Stars, he's also looking to show the NCAA that he could be a serious contender for the Hobey Baker Award this season, if he were to win it this year, this would be the states first ever Hobey Baker Award Winner. Also add in things like the Texas Stars & Houston Aeros making the AHL Calder Cup Finals in back-to-back years.

These are the type of stories that need to start getting out there a lot more to really start seeing the explosive growth in the sport of hockey like we saw in the late 90s and early 2000s to see it again to show players what is capable of playing at the highest levels, including the NHL like were beginning to see with the string of NHL Prospects we have had since 2007 when Austin Smith was taken by the Stars in the 5th Round.

Suspension Announcement

The North American Hockey League has announced the suspensions for the Brawl last night. The NAHL doesn't reveal the suspensions on the league website. So I had to go through both teams and Corpus Christi Caller Beat Writer Greg Rajan to get these suspensions and make sure they were in deed correct. To no one's surprise, Tornado Forward Skyler Spiller who delivered the Sucker Punch that started the fight will be out for the next 10 games and won't be able to return until March 2nd when the Tornado play in Kansas against the Roadrunners.

Other suspensions went to Conner Burton who will sit out the next 5 games, Conner won't be available to return to the ice until February 4th when the Tornado hit the road to play the Wichita Falls Wildcats. While 1 game suspensions went to Michael Hoy & Mico Solorzano for the Tornado as well as Ice Rays Defensemen Ladislav Hruska & Forward Joe Smereck as well for their roles in the Brawl as well. Both Ice Rays Players will be able to return this weekend on Saturday Night against the Wichita Falls Wildcats.

One surprise from this story was that neither Texas Tornado Head Coach Tony Curtale or Corpus Christi Icerays GM Pat Dunn who also got in a shouting match with each other. And if it weren't for a piece of pexi-glass splitting the two, they could have easily thrown some punches themselves as well.

Especially for the Tornado, it will be interesting to see how paired with the injury problems the team has had recently. To put these suspensions on top will make it quite a challenge for the Tornado against the Topeka Roadrunners this weekend. Especially on Friday Night when all 4 players will have to sit out. As for Skyler Spiller who's been great on faceoffs and brings a lot of physicality, that will be tough to replace over the next month as Spiller won't be allowed to return to the ice till March 2 when the Tornado head to Kansas to play the Topeka Roadrunners.

After sending some emails to the Texas Tornado for comment, the team hasen't answered any of my emails.

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