Wildcats may have baited Mavericks into rivalry
Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011 15:03
Here fishy, fishy, fishy.
Every college hockey team has its traditions. One that has developed for the Maverick hockey team is throwing a fish on the ice after UNO's first goal. A symbolic gesture meant to humiliate the goalie and tell him to "fish" the puck out of the net.
Northern Michigan Head Coach Walt Kyle was not amused. Neither was his team. A Northern Michigan freshman forward, Pat Bateman, jabbed the fish away from the Mavboni, towards the boards after UNO's first goal Saturday night. That stunt led to a brawl in front of the NMU bench and resulted in 38 minutes in penalties including two 10-minute game misconducts, one to Bateman and one to UNO captain Mike Lefley, who also collected four minutes in minor penalties.
"I was on the ice after scoring the goal, so we were doing our normal thing, going around tapping the players," Lefley said. "Buddy goes along there hitting the fish away from the guy, so one of our guys gave him a shot, then (Brent) Kisio was getting held and guys were swinging at him and I can't let that happen. I couldn't believe I got 14 minutes for what I did. If they wanted me to give them 14 minutes, I could've."
The fish incident Saturday was the tip of the iceberg for Kyle in the two-year history between these two teams, and Kyle made it clear after the game that the whole situation got under his scales.
"Last year, we came in here and honest to God, they make a chicken shit call on a curved stick. Nobody makes that call. Then last night we put the wrong starting goalie in and he (Kemp) goes to the ref and asks for a penalty. You know, chicken shit," Kyle said. "You don't do that, so our guys are pissed. They throw that fish out tonight and one of our guys goes over and whacks it and gets a 10-minute misconduct for hitting a fish. I'm telling you now that's a delay of game. If that Zamboni comes out again, we're calling the league, it's a delay of game penalty. The league's got to handle that. Its not hockey, its paper shuffling."
Kyle cleared the air about his feelings about Kemp saying he liked Kemp and that he had a lot of respect for him and his staff. But ...
"Anywhere I've ever coached, those are chicken shit. C-H-I-C-K ..."
Does this brew any bad blood between the teams or the players?
"No," Kyle said. "I just don't want to win in a paper shuffle. Let's drop the puck and let's play. I don't care, he beat me last night, it's fine he deserved it."
Kemp wouldn't get baited into any severe reaction to Kyle's comments. Kemp simply defended the tradition that has come to be at UNO.
"I don't fault our guys for that. At some point in time, you're not going to get pushed around," Kemp said. "Its part of the tradition. It's part of the entertainment, part of the aura. It's one of those things where that's what college hockey should be. If he wants to stir it up, that's fine. That's his choice."
But like Kyle, Kemp insists there is no bad blood between the two.
The whole situation develops a nice healthy rivalry between the teams that goes back to UNO's first season in the CCHA. UNO got their first league points and first playoff series win in Marquette, Mich. and the two have played close games since. To make the water even more murky, the teams are slated in the same cluster next year, meaning they will play each other four times. UNO may just get a rival yet.