The Florida Everblades may not have started Saturday night’s brawl against the Reading Royals, but they received equal punishment when the ECHL doled out suspensions on Friday.
Florida captain Mike Egener, who fought three separate Royals players and needed six stitches after being hit in the back of the head with a stick by a player on the Reading bench, received a three-game suspension and a fine. Florida defenseman Elgin Reid, who came off the bench in defense of Egener, received a five-game ban plus a fine, while Florida coach Greg Poss received a one-game suspension because Reid left the bench.
Poss accepted the punishment, but said he didn’t necessarily agree with it. Assistant coach Brad Tapper will coach the Blades tonight at Kalamazoo.
“I have a different opinion than the league,” Poss said. “When our guy gets hit over the head with a stick off the bench; they started the whole thing, why do we get so many games?”
Florida’s Ethan Graham, Alex Hutchings, Alexandre Imbeault, Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll, Mike McKenzie and Bobby Raymond were each fined an undisclosed amount, as was the Everblades organization.
Reading’s Todd Perry received a five-game suspension and fine for leaving the bench while his teammate Ryan Donald was given two games and fined for being the second player off the Reading bench.
Reading’s Yannick Riendeau, who struck Egener with his stick in the back of the head, received a one-game suspension and fine. Brett Gallant, who Poss and several Everblades players blamed for instigating the incident, was fined an undisclosed amount, as was teammate Chris Blight.
The Reading organization was fined, and Reading coach Larry Courville was fined and suspended for one game.
Poss added that the entire experience surrounding the brawl may lead to him handling things differently in the future.
“It’s going to lead to us protecting ourselves we’re not going to wait for the league to protect us because they’re not going to do it,” Poss said. “We’re going to have to take matters into our own hands. Next time, maybe the right thing to do is to clear the bench.”
After the team’s played a very physical game on Friday, Jan. 21, Poss said he approached referee Nick Krebsbach prior to Saturday’s game to make sure the game’s officials took control early. That didn’t happen as Egener and Donald fought just 1:50 into the game.
Things got ugly at the 14:47 mark of the first period when Gallant speared Imbeault, who returned with a spear of his own just moments later.
The back-to-back infractions led to two fights, one between Gallant and Imbeault and another between Egener and Donald. As the four rolled around on the ice in front of the Reading bench, multiple players left the bench area and came onto the ice to jump into the fracas.
Reading’s Rob Kwiet jumped into the fight with Egener and Donald, but a punch from Egener broke Kwiet’s nose, and a subsequent punch to a defenseless Kwiet left him blooded and face-down on the ice for the remainder of the brawl.
By the time everything was sorted out, Donald, Egener, Imbeault, Reid and Gallant were all assessed game misconducts. The incident led to a combined total of 85 penalty minutes.