Nick Vitucci, head coach of the Toldeo Walleye, has watched his team's playoff chances fade in the last few weeks.
The frustration has been building, and on Saturday night it manifested in a memorable explosion of anger, expletives and flying water bottles toward referee Joe Sullivan — earning Vitucci an ejection from the game and a suspension from the ECHL.
Wow, are the Browns aware that Vitucci has that kind of arm? This incident with Vitucci came in the same weekend as the now-infamous "mock surrender" for the ECHL's Colorado franchise.
Vitucci's tirade came after Toledo's Joey Ryan fought Ryan Schnell of the Wheeling Nailers, as Vitucci felt Schnell instigated the fight against Toledo's top defenseman with the Walleye down three goals in the third period. So the coach hurled three water bottles, a stick and a clipboard onto the ice, later telling the Toledo Blade:
Following his expletive-filled rant, Vitucci was kicked out of the game and marched in disgust into the locker room. He was issued a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct. He said Schnell should have been called for an instigator penalty for starting the fight.
"Their 12th forward went down and challenged our top defenseman. Let the fighters fight the fighters. Don't go after the skill players," Vitucci said. "He went after one of our players when the puck wasn't even in the area. That's an instigator. He's going down there to start a fight. If the ref doesn't see that … it's absolutely frustrating. I hope that didn't come from their bench. Shame on them if it did. We play them a couple more times. I hoped that wasn't the case."
Once he littered the ice with bottles and sticks and a clipboard, the Toledo fans joined in with a shower of empty cups — and, as the video shows, two octopi for the Detroit Red Wings affiliate.
Incidentally, Vitucci's a bit of an ECHL legend, as he's in the league's Hall of Fame as its most successful goaltender. But the ECHL still suspended Vitucci for one game and fined him "a couple hundred dollars" for the tirade. He watched Sunday's game from a luxury box, without incident.
No word on the condition of the water bottles.
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- Nick Vitucci