The battle for North Island Cup bragging rights turned into a battle royal Saturday night at the Comox Valley Sports Centre.
The cup is contested each year between Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League North Division rivals Comox Valley Glacier Kings and Campbell River Storm.
The Storm won last year's season series and were determined not to give up the cup without a fight, and that's exactly how things played out.
With the Yetis leading 5-3 late in the second period, a scrum in front of the C.R. net escalated into an all-out brawl. All 10 skaters on the ice were handed fighting majors. The Icemen eventually skated to a 7-4 win, grabbing both the North Island Cup and home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Whether suspensions resulting from the Saturday dust-up affect the Yetis' post-season lineup remains to be seen.
"We are in full cooperation with the league and we personally delivered the game footage ... to league representatives," said Comox Valley head coach Bill Rotheisler.
"The game sheet shows 11 players involved in the incident, but I cannot make a definitive comment on how the suspensions will be dispersed. The VIJHL constitution states the likelihood of multiple suspensions; however, to what extent, we are unaware of at this time."
As for the line brawl, Rotheisler said, "I support our players' decisions on the ice during the incident. There was nothing premeditated from our part. Putting our players in a position that compromises their safety when we are up by two goals, against a team that statistically we are not likely to see again after the regular season, is not logical practice."
The Glacier Kings and Storm meet tonight in Campbell River, and the Yetis close out the regular season Saturday at home with a 7:30 p.m. start against the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
Rylan Ball (2g, 1a) and John Gosbee (1g, 2a) led the G-Kings over the Storm while Wade Bartlett (2), Jordan Crisp and Tyson Rennie netted the other tallies. In his first start since Nov. 18, Denon Maximchuk got the win as the Icemen out-shot C.R. 38-21.
On Friday night the Yetis were in Saanich where they dropped an 8-3 decision to the Braves. Garrett Halls, Brandon Halls and Ball scored for the visitors, who were out-shot 49-25. Starting his third game in a row, Bryce DiRocco took the loss.
DiRocco and Maximchuk have been seeing duty lately as the Glacier Kings are resting Michael Hails. "Hails is out day-to-day strictly as a precaution to rest a lower body," Rotheisler told the Record. "He will most likely dress next game, although we have not made a decision on whether him or DiRocco will start."
Meanwhile, Rotheisler says Jack Kennelly's recovery process is going very well and is on track. "However, he is still two weeks or so away." The power forward is recovering from surgery to repair an upper body injury.
ICE CHIPS The VIJHL's wild card game to see whether Campbell River or Kerry Park advances to the playoffs goes Sunday in Victoria ... it will be followed by presentation of league awards ...
(with a file from the Comox Valley Glacier Kings)