Remarkably in this age of cell-phone cameras, no video has yet surfaced of the brawl at Saturday's Colorado Eagles-Odessa Jackalopes preseason hockey game, which Odessa forfeited despite leading 3-1 following a series of fights that were vicious even by the standards of the sport. The worst: Eagle Brad MacMillan reportedly hit Jackalope Dave Van Drunen hard enough to break his nose and jaw, requiring multiple screws and metal plates to put his face back together again.
MacMillan has been suspended by the Central Hockey League for 22 games, with others getting lesser sit-outs -- but the teams have agreed to forgo criminal charges, as they announced in a joint letter. It's on view below, along with a CHL press release about the suspensions, the amusingly offhand game recap from the Eagles' website, plus a local TV report about the latest developments featuring footage of the fight's aftermath, in which personnel attempt to scrape blood off the ice at Loveland's Budweiser Events Center.
Eagles, Jackalopes Issue Joint Letter
On the behalf of the Central Hockey League, both the Odessa Jackalopes and Colorado Eagles would like to say Thank You for attending last Saturday nights game at the BEC. It was unfortunate the way this event unfolded. Regretfully, the emotions became very elevated during our preseason contest and an outstanding player was injured. While we cannot change the past, we can only more forward and learn from this incident. From the front office, to the coaches, to the players, the game of hockey has always been a physical, emotional, and passionate sport for all of us. We are happy to announce that the money from the fines that were collected by the CHL from both organizations will be donated to the fight against breast cancer that the Eagles were supporting during that Saturday night game.
Odessa Jackalopes co-owner, Rick Gasser, was the one who made the decision for the Odessa players to leave the ice and forfeit the contest. Not head coach Paul Gillis. Rick and the Jackalopes organization apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused to the passionate fans of Northern Colorado . The Jackalopes want to thank the staff at the Budweiser Events Center for handling Saturday's events and getting Dave Van Drunen to the hospital carefully and quickly. The treatment he, and all of us, received by the staff at the Rocky Mountain Medical Center was first class. Dave is at home with his wife and children, he is in good spirits, and he is looking forward to returning to the ice this season. The Jackalopes would also like to thank the Eagles fans that took the time to send their well wishes to Dave, his family, and the Jackalopes organization.
"I want the Eagles and the Jackalopes to move forward and prepare for our seasons. We look forward to coming back to the BEC December 9th and 10th to showcase our hockey team in front of your sold out building. Please do not let the emotions of one night keep anyone away from our game also continue to support the Eagles and the Jackalopes this season. Thank you to the Eagles for their hospitality during training camp." -- Rick Gasser
The Eagles have worked hard since their inception to develop a culture of professional, entertaining, and winning hockey. The Eagles would like thank the Odessa Jackalopes for their understanding, and their work to move on from this situation to the start of the new season. For the players of every team, preseason games are a chance to make an impression and earn jobs playing professional hockey. Unfortunately on Saturday, the physicality and emotion of making those impressions took a turn that no one could have predicted. Once again the Colorado Eagles wish Dave Van Drunen a full recovery.
"Rick is the exact DNA of an owner that loves and protects his players just as we love and protect our Colorado Eagles . Rick and I have moved on with the utmost respect for each others organization just as our great fans would expect and deserve. We are looking forward to welcoming the Jackalopes back to Northern Colorado to continue the fun, competitive contests we've had played over the last few years." -- Martin Lind
After discussing this matter with the CHL and the Colorado Eagles, the Odessa Jackalopes have agreed to withdraw their request for any criminal charges to be placed against any Eagles' personnel.
Both the Jackalopes and the Eagles are ready to move forward from this event, and we invite the fans of the CHL to move forward with us. The 2010-11 season should be an exciting time for everyone with all the new changes that have occurred throughout the Central Hockey League. Good luck to everyone this season, and we hope that all the teams around the hockey world can learn from the mistakes that were made on Saturday night.
Rick Gasser Odessa Jackalopes
Martin Lind Colorado Eagles
Suspensions, Fines Handed Out for Saturday's Game
(LEAGUE RELEASE -- TEMPE, AZ - October 14, 2010) -- The Central Hockey League (CHL) announced today the penalties as a result of the actions in Saturday's Colorado Eagles/Odessa Jackalopes preseason game in Loveland, Colorado. The game resulted in a 1-0 forfeit win for Colorado after Odessa failed to complete the game in the third period.
As a result of failing to complete the game, the Odessa Jackalopes organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money, all of which will be donated on behalf of the Colorado Eagles and the Odessa Jackalopes to the Wilbur's Fund for Women With Breast Cancer in Northern Colorado. Additionally, Odessa head coach Paul Gillis has been suspended three (3) games, to be served during the Jackalopes first three games of the regular season and the Odessa organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for public comments and incidents during the game.
For their part in Saturday's events, the Colorado Eagles organization has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for the multiple altercations at the end of the uncompleted game and acting coach for that game, Greg Pankewicz (the team's assistant coach) has been suspended three (3) games, to be served during the Eagles three regular season visits to Odessa.
Colorado forward Brad MacMillan has been suspended 22 games for his match penalty for attempting to injure a player.
Colorado defenseman George Bradley has been suspended five (5) games for his actions during an altercation and has been fined an undisclosed amount of money for the same infraction.
Colorado defenseman Mario Joly has been suspended four (4) games for leaving the players bench.
"We are very disappointed with the actions that took place on Saturday night in Colorado," said Lewis. "This in no way reflects CHL hockey and we feel the appropriate parties have been held accountable. These incidents are not condoned by the league and will not be tolerated."
The CHL will make no further public comments regarding this incident and the penalties associated with the Colorado/Odessa game on October 9, 2010.
Odessa Forfeits Pre-season Game
LOVELAND, Colo. -- The Colorado Eagles skated off the ice with a 1-0 win (per the Central Hockey League rule book) via a forfeit by the Odessa Jackalopes in the teams' second and final preseason game before the 2010-11 regular season begins Oct. 15. The Jackalopes forfeited the game at 9:26 of the third period after multiple fights in the first half of the period.
The Eagles out-shot the Jackalopes 14-4 in the opening frame, but got burned by Odessa's potent power play and All-Star Sebastien Thinel on the way to a 2-1 deficit after the first period. The reigning Governors' Cup champions got on the board first with a power-play goal at 5:11 when Kenny Bernard knocked in a backhander while stationed all alone at the left side of the crease.
Thinel made it 2-0 just over four minutes later by taking the puck behind the Eagles' net and stuffing it inside the right post past Kyle Jones. The home team got on the board at 18:30 -- just two seconds into a stretch of 4-on-4 play -- when Adam Hogg picked up an idle puck off a faceoff in the left circle and beat Marc-Antonie Gelinas to trim the 'Jacks' lead in half.
Things played out similarly in the second frame as the Eagles out-shot the Jackalopes 13-7, but Odessa was the only team to put a puck in the net -- again on the power play. At 4:34, Todd Robinson, stationed at the right side of the crease, got Jones to go down and stack his pads before sending a pass between the hashes for a wide open shot by Mike Ramsay.
The third period opened with seven matching fights within the first 1:39. Things calmed down for the next eight minutes before another flurry of fights broke out, resulting in Odessa leaving the bench and heading to the visiting locker room. After a couple of minutes, Jackalopes Owner Rick Gasser stepped onto the bench and motioned for referee Kris Schoech to officially forfeit the game. At that point Odessa held a 3-1 lead despite being out-shot 35-12.
The Eagles will begin the regular season with a home series against the Arizona Sundogs on Oct. 15 & 16.
More from our Sports archive: "Kanavis McGhee: Did ex-CU standout start agent Josh Luchs on a path of paying players?"
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