Five players from a Pennsylvania hockey team will stand trial on assault charges stemming from an on-ice brawl at a tournament game in March of this year.
At Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for the five players from Ridley (Folsom, Pa.) High, prosecutors argued it was a concerted attack. Defense lawyers countered by saying fighting is just part of the game.
According to Philadelphia CBS affiliate KYW-TV, Ridley was losing 7-1 to Central Bucks West (Dowylestown, Pa.) with seven minutes to go in the quarterfinal game of the Flyers Cup in Hatfield, Pa., when the brawl started.
Ridley graduates Brock Anderson, Jacob Cross, Nate Dunning, Ryan Gricco, and Thomas Plotts are facing charges that include simple assault and conspiracy to commit assault. A sixth player involved who was charged as a juvenile has not been identified.
Investigators tell KYW that the scorekeeper heard the Ridley players listing who they wanted to beat up or hurt. Prosecutor John Gradel showed a video of the fight at the preliminary hearing.
He says Ridley players were frustrated, as the seniors knew this was their last game and they couldn’t be suspended for fighting. In turn, said the prosecutors, those players took out their frustration on the C.B. West players.
“When the puck was dropped none of the players from Ridley made a move for the puck, all they did was start throwing punches,” Gradel said, per KYW.
According to what defense attorney Mike Malloy said, this was a mutual fight.
“It seems to me that whatever Ridley did was wrong and whatever C.B. West did was defensive,” said Malloy. “I don’t see the video that way at all.”
Per the Delaware County Daily Times, Malloy went further.
“Surprise, surprise. It’s a hockey game. A fight broke out,” he said. “If you watch a hockey game today, someone is gong to win a fight, someone is going to lose a fight.”
Per the Daily Times, the brawl capped a penalty-marred game between the teams, the final incident occurred at 8:42 of the third and involved 17 match penalties assessed to Ridley (including three to assistant coaches), plus seven major penalties and two minors. C.B. West was assessed four minors for its part.
The final penalty count in the game for Ridley was 271 minutes on 45 infractions for Ridley, compared to 44 minutes for C.B. West on 14 penalties.
Three C.B. West players came away from the fight injured, with one having a broken nose and a broken bone around his eye.
Since ice hockey is a club sport, it is not directly sponsored by the schools.
Per KYW, charges were held against four of the players, while another waived his hearing. A formal arraignment is set for Jan. 17.