A tough ECHL road trip was winding down for the Kansas City Mavericks on Saturday when all heck broke loose.
Trailing 4-0 to the Toledo Walleye with about eight minutes remaining, fights broke out on the ice, including the rare goalie square-off between Mason McDonald of the Mavericks and Toledo’s Matej Machovsky.
But the swings that gained the most attention belonged to Mavericks forward Garrett Klotz, who, according to coverage in the Toledo Blade, punched Walleye forward A.J. Jenks after play had stopped.
Klotz earned a game misconduct penalty and was ejected. For the game, the Mavericks were whistled for 13 penalties for 65 minutes, while Toledo was whistled for 11 penalties for 55 minutes.
On Sunday, Toledo defenseman Kevin Tansey, who played 44 games for the Mavericks last season, called Kansas City coach John-Scott Dickson “spineless.”
“The fact that we had to have police officers between dressing rooms after a game and players had warned us before face-offs guys were sent out to start stuff, it’s disgusting, it’s gross,” Tansey told the Blade. “I don’t know what drives someone to sucker punch someone from behind. That’s psychotic.”
Toledo coach Dan Watson came strong with the criticism, suggesting the Mavericks were looking for a brawl.
“Their coaching staff should be embarrassed,” Watson said. “Their organization should be embarrassed. Klotz should be suspended for the rest of the year. I think he should be done. It’s unacceptable. Our league is trying to get rid of the image from the 1980s and 1990s. If this is going to continue it won’t, we’ll continue to get a bad rap.”
Dickson denied that Klotz or any of the Mavericks were out to rough up the opponent.
“I want to make this clear — players were not sent out to deliberately do anything,’ Dickson said in a statement. “Things were happening on the ice. We will always play till the end. Emotions and frustration came into play and that is hockey.”
Mavericks president and general manager Brent Thiessen was just as adamant in his denial that Kansas City players were deliberating trying to injure opponents.
“We at no time condone actions that put any player in jeopardy of being injured,” Theissen said Monday. “We have spoken with Klotz and will speak with the league on the matter. At no time, ever, were players instructed to “take on” players from an opposing team and to make accusations such as that is completely wrong and unfounded.
“That isn’t how this teams plays or approaches any game. It’s an unfortunate instance and we are very happy there wasn’t an injury to the opposing player.”
Not all chippy play was instigate Kansas City players. After scoring a goal, Walleye forward Connor Crisp hooked Mavericks captain Tyler Elbrecht as he was skating by.
The Mavericks fell 5-0 and lost all three on the road trip. They begin an eight-game homestand on Friday.