October 12, 2010
Defenseman Dave Van Drunen had kicked around the minor leagues since 1998 before joining the Odessa Jackalopes of the Central Hockey League in 2008. He's the team captain and, at 34, their oldest player; and, as you can see, he's pretty much the hockey version of Toby Flenderson from "The Office," with a few more fighting majors.
Last weekend, Drunen played a key role in one of the wildest, and most violent and controversial, situations in recent CHL history -- during a preseason game, no less.
Two days after they met in another exhibition game, the Jacks and the Colorado Eagles played at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo., on Saturday. An intense game became a chaotic one in the third period, as you can see by the stat sheet: seven fights occurred in the first 99 seconds of the period, followed by a line brawl between the teams with 10:34 left in the game.
What sparked the brawl: Van Drunen getting slugged in the face by Colorado's Brad MacMillan immediately after a faceoff. And we're talking walloped. He was flat on the ice as the melee intensified around him, the damage having been done: a broken jaw, a broken nose and some other facial injuries.
He had surgery to repair them on Sunday; according to the Odessa American and reporter Lee Scheide, Van Drunen required "five plates and 18 screws" to repair his face; he'll miss up to two months of the season.
Here's the aftermath of the brawl:
After the brawl, and with his team leading 3-1, Jackalopes coach Paul Gillis decided the exhibition game wasn't worth the sacrifice. So he took drastic actions ... although they didn't compare with those of his owner.
A faceoff in Colorado offensive zone took on the image of a tornado's path, with sticks and gloves whirling off at the whistle, and it took minutes to clear the ice. Chris Hau, Jason Beatty, Brad MacMillan, David Brown and George Bradley all received fighting or instigating penalties, while Odessa's players did not receive penalties because they were taken from the ice.
While Colorado players remained at their bench, Gillis signaled his entire crew to leave the ice. A few minutes later he returned from the tunnel to talk to referee Kris Schoech, and the game was called.
Adam Dunivan of Eagles blog has more on the brawl and the forfeiture, including news of an
Odessa Eagles player who left the bench and challenged the Odessa bench to fight.
Jackalopes owner Rick Gasser issued a challenge of his own on Saturday ... to law enforcement.
He told the Odessa American that he asked police to arrest MacMillian on three occasions during the game and was rejected each time:
Gasser also stated more charges are likely to be filed against some of the other participants in the incident. "Thursday night when we played them was like ‘Slapshot'," Gasser said in reference to the famous minor-league hockey movie. "Saturday night was a horror show. They should be ashamed of themselves.
"I'm asking the league for a lifetime ban for MacMillan, at least 20 games for Mario and a season-long suspension for (Eagles assistant coach Greg) Pankewicz, because he was the one running the team that night while their coach, Chris Stewart(notes), was watching the game from the stands to evaluate."
The Reporter Herald wrote that "after the game, Gillis and several other Odessa players and personnel were seen giving statements to police officers."
The American quotes CHL commissioner Duane Lewis as saying the league is "looking at all the video and facts from the incidents and that occurred and will announce our findings/decision as soon as possible."
Geez ... we shudder to think what happens in the CHL regular season. Oh, that's right: This does.
Stick tap to Mike L. for the scoop.