There was a lone WHL game on the calendar Monday, a U.S. Division battle on Martin Luther King Day that saw Spokane score a rare victory at Portland's Veterans Memorial Coliseum, defeating a red-hot Winterhawks squad 5-2.
Rarely have the Winterhawks lost this season, and rarely have they been outplayed so decisively, with Spokane holding the edge on shots on goals even through the third period when Portland's guns failed to generate any sort of pressure on Spokane goaltender Eric Williams.
Naturally, frustrations boiled over and resulted in three separate fights with :33 seconds to go in the game after Spokane's Todd Fiddler scored an empty net goal with under a minute to go to ice it. Portland's Joe Mahon, owner of 81 penalty minutes coming into the contest, snow-showered Williams after a routine stoppage, triggering a six-man brawl:
Instantly, Spokane's Jeremy McIntosh, not a known fighter, jumps into Mahon to protect his goaltender. Mahon throws a pre-emptive right cross that connects with McIntosh, which causes a few more bodies to get involved. Riley Whittingham and Adam de Champlain, close by, let their own emotions boil over and start their own little scrap. Outside of the frame, Chiefs' fight major leader Carter Proft (21 already this season according to hockeyfights.net) squares off with Joey Baker, although it's unclear what started up that one.
Meanwhile, Spokane's Jackson Playfair, unable to break up Proft and Baker ("Come on guys, play fair!") just skates out of the mess.
All in all, 86 penalty minutes were handed out, along with six fighting majors and game misconducts for fights taking place in the final five minutes of the game. The WHL rulebook isn't posted online for whatever reason, but I'm willing to bet there may be some additional penalties, whether fines or suspensions, as a result of this.
The other question here. With a three-goal lead and the game already decided, how come each team had their top three fighters on the ice? At least it was a situation like the Memorial Cup, when Shawinigan coach Eric Veilleux sent out pugilistic defenceman Dillon Donnelly in a forward position, and attempted to defend his decision as a strategic hockey move.
That wasn't it, though. At the conclusion of the game, Keegan Iverson was charged with an attempt-to-injure match penalty:
PDX's Keegan Iverson got a major for charging at the end of the game. SPO's Connor Chartier looked like he didn't know where he was.
— Scott Sepich (@SSepich) January 22, 2013
There's no video of this incident yet, but I don't think that the Portland Winterhawks have seen the last of WHL disciplinarians this season.