Emotions tend to run high when perennial Wisconsin Valley Conference championship contenders Stevens Point Area Senior High and Wausau West get together in a hockey rink.
Tempers flared with just under 5 minutes left in the third period Tuesday night, and some punches were exchanged to the right of the West net.
When things finally settled down, game disqualifications were handed out to Jared Hucke and Tyler McHugh of SPASH and the Warriors’ Sheldon Oja and Alex Filkouski.
Both teams will have to be on their best behavior the rest of the season. WIAA rules state any team that receives three disqualifications during the course of a season becomes ineligible for the WIAA tournament series.
So another disqualification of any kind — meaning a fighting major, a boarding penalty or cross-checking major that results in a disqualification — for either team will force that team to miss the WIAA tournament.
In addition to the team ramifications, all four players will have to sit out the next game for their respective teams.
Before the shenanigans, West showed it clearly was the team to beat in the Valley title chase as five different players scored goals to enable the conference-leading Warriors to pick up a 5-2 win over SPASH at K.B. Willett Arena.
From the perspective of one of the coaches, the skirmish that took place was blown way out of proportion, leaving both teams’ season in a perilous position.
“Come on, that was just a little scrum after the whistle during an intense game to have two teams get their playoff hopes tainted,” Panthers coach Dan Francis said.
No gloves were dropped during the skirmish or helmets ripped off.
While there was was some trash-talking and some physical collisions throughout the contest, there were never any signs of ill-will between the WVC rivals.
Now the No. 2 team in the latest state coaches poll, West will have to avoid any more disqualifications if it wants to compete for a state championship.
“We have to make sure we conduct ourselves the best we can in those situations,” West coach Pete Susens said.
When hockey was being played West demonstrated its intent to wrest the Valley championship away from the Panthers.
Oja opened the scoring 7 minutes, 5 seconds into the first period dominated by the Warriors, who held a 16-3 edge in shots, and added an assist on Justin Anderson’s power-play goal early in the second to stake West to a 2-0 lead.
Any goals put up against Siclovan was a welcomed sight for the Warriors, who mustered just one goal against the SPASH netminder in a pair of meetings last season, including an overtime contest.
“It just felt good to score a goal against him (Siclovan),” Susens said. “One of their best defensemen (Mason Czaikowski) was out, so we wanted to attack their defense.
“But a two-goal lead is the worst thing you can have in hockey.”
Jake Jaworski brought the Panthers within 2-1, but Logan Clemment answered for West to restore a two-goal cushion and Kevin Conley made it 4-1 early in the third period.
Francis found plenty of positives to come out of the loss, including the performance of his junior goaltender.
“I thought he (Siclovan) had a phenomenal game, no lie,” the SPASH coach said. “He gave us a chance to win the game and that’s all you want from a goalie.
“It was a hard-fought game, and like I told the guys, sometimes you just lose to a better team, and they were the better team tonight.”
First period: 1. WW, Sheldon Oja (Justin Anderson, Justin Zahn), 7:05.
Second period: 2. WW, Anderson (Drew Pearson, Oja), 2:55 (pp); 3. SPASH, Jake Jaworski Sam Medo, Kobe Keller), 5:04; 4. WW, Logan Clemment (Andrew Lee), 8:46.
Third period: 5. WW, Kevin Conley (Cale Bowman, Alex Gessler), 5:42; 6. SPASH, Tyler McHugh, 6:00; 7. WW, Lee (Clemment), 14:40.
Saves: Wausau West (Sam Wiegert) 23, SPASH (Nathan Siclovan) 29.
Records: SPASH 7-6-1, 3-1-1 WVC; Wausau West 9-3-0, 5-0-0 WVC.