As hockey fights go, the Carolina Thunderbirds and the Columbus River Dragons squared off in one to remember on Sunday at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex.
The first-place Thunderbirds won 9-3, but 35 penalties were called and Winston-Salem coach Andre Niec’s dress shirt was ripped off.
Videos from various fans and the live feed from the Thunderbirds website showed both coaches going for one another in the bench area. The benches cleared during the two-minute brawl with about six minutes to go in the game.
Among the 35 penalties called in the game was a game misconduct for Niec, who with River Dragons coach Jerome Bechard left the ice after the brawl as the game continued. The Thunderbirds scored two more goals.
“The biggest problem for me was I tried to get off the ice and then one of their players (Nick Wright) came from behind to come after me and one of my players stepped in,” Niec said. “Then the referees did nothing to stop that, so I had to go protect my player.”
The Thunderbirds and River Dragons play five more times in the regular season and could see each other in the playoffs.
“I don’t know what the league is going to do as far as suspensions and all of that,” Niec said. “But I think Nick Wright should be thrown out of the league. You hate for something like that to happen but it did.”