The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs and Corpus Christi IceRays compete in the Central Hockey League, a collection of independent teams whose franchises span from Arizona to Texas to Mississippi.
If either of these franchises sounds familiar, it's likely because they participated in one of the wildest brawls in the hockey world this season: goalies fighting, players leaving their bench to the join the fray, seven suspensions and nearly 300 penalty minutes in a game back on Dec. 26.
Travis Huntington is the Mudbugs' media guy, but he's also their radio play-by-play voice. "I couldn't believe this was happening," he recalled. "You're doing your best to describe everything that's happening at once, even though there are six different things happening on the ice at once."
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There's finally a clip of this brawl available. It focuses a bit too much on the goalie fight, although it does capture how the massive brawl appeared to be ending before the violence flared up again at about the 1:55 mark. But Huntington's radio call is what makes the video an instant classic: It's at a Wrestlemania, "oh the humanity!" level of intensity, with unabashed Bossier-Shreveport homerism.
How can you not love an announcer who sees an IceRays player take an uppercut and exclaims "THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR RUNNING [goaltender] KEN CARROLL!"? The clip, with Huntington's call:
The line brawl was impressive; the story about what led up to it is fascinating.
Almost as fascinating as the fact that the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs and Corpus Christi IceRays are going to face each other again tonight in Texas.
First, some context: The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs and Corpus Christi IceRays hadn't had any semblance of bad blood before their game after Christmas. The Mudbugs were in a different league, the Western Professional Hockey League, until the 2001 season. The teams play in different divisions, and the Mudbugs have had a bit more championship success than the IceRays.
Huntingtonsaid the fun started when Brett Angel, an ironically named tough guy for the Mudbugs, had a collision with the IceRays' goalie:
"We were killing them, and one of our guys earlier in the period had dumped the puck in behind the net, and the goalie cut right in front of him to play the puck. [Brett Angel] does this stuff on purpose sometimes, but this time he didn't -- but he still ran [the goalie] into the boards. Their guy tried to fight him, and Angel beat him up. He got five minutes for charging for running their goaltender.
"Later, they're on the power play and we score a shorthanded goal. So they're even more angry, down 5-0. [The IceRays] then decide to put out five of their tough guys on the power play. We didn't see this coming, and we've got a couple of small guys out there. They dump the puck in, and you can see it on the video how they just take a run through the neutral zone and slam our goalie.
"Then it was on, of course."
But then it became a numbers situation: The Mudbugs had four position players on the ice, and the IceRays had five thugs. Enter Quade Lightbody, who along with having a nearly perfect 1980s martial arts action star name is a veteran defenseman and team leader for the Mudbugs. He decided to leave the Bossier bench and join the fray, like a wrestler sprinting from the locker room to break up a beat-down in the ring. All that was missing was his theme music.
Huntington said Quade's run-in actually helped calm things down. Almost:
"He left the bench to even it up, and he and T.J. Reynolds [of Corpus Christi] were squared off pretty good. Everything started to calm down after the goalies were done. Lightbody started to get the best of Reynolds, because he didn't have anything left in the tank. So one of their guys came back in from the near bench to go after Lightbody, and another one of our guys came in to neutralize that guy. By the end of it, there were three guys that left our bench and two [IceRays] that didn't leave the bench but came back in to rejoin the fray."
Lightbody was suspended for six games and teammate J.R. Bria for two. Neil Clark, Brett Angel and coach Scott Muscutt of the Mudbugs, and Nicolas Bachand and Jonathan Trottier of the IceRayz, were each suspended for one game.
"We should have had more suspensions than they did," said Huntington.
The teams actually faced each other again the following game, the back-end of a home and home. But the suspensions were immediate, so both teams were missing their culprits; and, as usual, the passions were muted in the rematch, as the Mudbugs played one of their least penalized games of the season.
But tonight? Put it this way: It's Lightbody's first game back after his suspension.
"We'll see if there's some carryover," said Huntington.
"It could be on."