It was a scene that plays out in many minor hockey leagues, where shots to the chin are as frequent as shots on goal: The Federal Hockey League’s Matt Puntureri of the Danville Dashers and Jesse Felton of the Dayton Demonz – the ‘Z’ is no doubt because they’re EXTREME – skating away from a faceoff to center ice, where the spotlight would fall on their fight.
They skated around. They removed equipment. But at the moment when fists would typically start flying, the complete opposite happened:
Puntureri hugged Felton.
Then he removed a can of beer from his pants, had a sip and flashed a peace sign at the benches.
“I don’t know what that was in his jersey, but he pulled it out and he drank it.” This might be our favorite play-by-play quote of the season.
Felton, who once gained notoriety for being one of 22 siblings, and Puntureri are career minor leaguers. Felton’s the more accomplished fighter of the two, while Puntureri was involved in a complicated dispersal draft controversy that had ESPN Williamsport calling the FHL a “joke.”
After this clip hit the web on Sunday, the word “joke” has been used more than once to describe the FHL for allowing this circus.
The official box score indicates that neither player received a single penalty minute for these shenanigans; one can imagine the scene amongst the officials as they frantically search the FHL rules for “fights without a punch that ended with a beer chug.”
Danville proudly posted the fight on its Facebook page, and the comments are a mix of disgust and amusement.
So what was this? A chance to go viral? A goof on the conventions of hockey fights, after that post-bout high five in the LNAH? A protest against the league? (Keep in mind that Danville and Dayton are both owned by the same guy, Barry Soskin.) A call for peace?
Was it, as the YouTube video page described it: “The greatest act of good sportsmanship ever witnessed in the game?”
Or was it as our radio buddy Jeff Marek opined: “The end of hockey fights?”
s/t Tom P.