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Matt Rempe discusses Rangers' line brawl with Devils to start Wednesday’s game

The Hudson River Rivalry was in full effect on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, as all 10 Rangers and Devils dropped the mitts in a full-line brawl just two seconds following the opening face-off.

Among the most notable of the five scraps, which led to eight players being ejected with a game misconduct, was young Blueshirts enforcer Matt Rempe going toe-to-toe with New Jersey’s Kurtis MacDermid.

The 21-year-old has found himself square in the middle of some controversial moments during their first two meetings this season, and things finally came to a head during a nationally televised contest on Wednesday.

“That was a banger,” Rempe told reporters, including Vince Mercogliano of USA Today Sports. “That wasn’t planned or anything, it just kind of happened. I think it was kind of special that they did it as well, I knew that I was going to have to fight, but for them to go to war with me was pretty dang special.”

Rempe has been challenged by numerous enforcers during pregame warmups throughout his first year in the league, but this time around there was no conversation, as both sides knew what was about to go down.

“MacDermid was like we’re going right now,” Rempe said. “I’m like, yeah I know, I think there’s a reason why we’re both out here starting. So I just stood up, probably not going to get the puck anyways, and backed up so he wouldn't get an advantage.

"It was good, it was wicked. The crowd was going mad, actually chanting your name, and then firing them up after, that was so cool. It was definitely pretty wicked.”

The rest of their teammates wrapped up their scraps and skated off to the penalty box quickly, but the main event continued as Rempe and MacDermid continued trading blow-for-blow at center ice before running out of steam.

While there was no clear winner in the toss-up, both sides gained a newfound respect for the other after they finally went toe-to-toe.

“He was a real tough customer,” Rempe said. “That guy is a big boy and he’s strong. He’s been one of the toughest guys in the league for a long time and he has a job to do, you’ve gotta respect that.”

“I’m always going to have a lot of respect for him,” MacDermid added. “He’s a young kid just trying to do his thing to stay in the league and I understand that. He’s a big, tough, strong kid so I respect what he’s doing and he’s had a strong showing so far.”

Those comments, of course, come just a few weeks after MacDermid said he “lost a ton of respect” for Rempe when he didn’t answer the bell following an elbow to the head of defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, which resulted in a four-game suspension.

While the two sides likely won’t meet again with the Devils on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, the rivalry is certainly alive and well heading into next season.