Thu Dec 23 08:53am EST
We can only assume the catalyst for this Florida Everblades line brawl was the lingering angst over having to wear those neon green monstrosities as holiday jerseys.
Whatever the motivation, here are the Everblades and their ECHL rivals the Gwinnett Gladiators bringing the holiday cheer in a battle royal last night in Estero, Fla. ... including a GOALIE FIGHT!
No. 36 I your programs is Billy Sauer, the Gladiators goalie hanging on for dear life at center ice. No. 41 in your programs is Bobby Goepfert, the Everblades goalie who jumped in to stand up for a teammate and then tried to find a way to pound Sauer's face.
"I'm thinking, 'Holy crap, this is happening?' " Goepfert said. "I don't want to be taking Christmas pictures with a black eye, but I guess everything turned out OK. ... I couldn't have expected this around the holidays. It's the spirit of giving, but they were giving spirits."
Gwinnett (12-13-1) is 0-9-1 in its last 10 games, which may explain the players' frustration. And it may explain why Gladiators goalie Billy Sauer came down and challenged Goepfert. The two exchanged punches. When Goepfert landed a few shots, he earned one of the loudest roars heard in Germain in quite awhile.
"He came at me like he wanted to bear hug me," Goepfert said. "I said, 'Slow down, I'll fight you.' "
Goepfert, who took part in his first professional fight, said he wasn't surprised by the crowd's reaction. "I know anytime goalies fight, it's a big deal," he said. "It's nice when you get appreciated for standing up for a teammate. It's part of the game, hopefully not every game. I'm not the biggest guy in the world, but it's not the size of the dog, you know?"
Everblades blogger Lady Byng's Love Child had the penalty breakdown on the YouTube video page and will have a recap later today. Quite the stocking stuffer from the wild and wacky world of the ECHL, that one.