While stiff penalties as a result of fighting in hockey is a relatively new concept, the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association has little tolerance when it comes to in-game fisticuffs.
The association made that clear when Temple junior forward Joe Pisko and junior goalie Chris Mullen received suspensions of six games and three games, respectively, after an all-out brawl that took place during Temple’s 5–2 loss to Rowan on Oct. 13.
Coach Jerry Roberts and freshman forward Jayson Marbach were suspended for Temple’s 6–2 loss to Rider University on Saturday, Oct. 20.
After a few bouts of pushing and shoving along with some minor hits from both sides, the brawl didn’t reach full height until Rowan senior goalie Brien Bennett pulled Pisko out from behind, after which Pisko turned around to retaliate and was immediately jumped by Rowan sophomore forward Alekos Polis.
“It’s ironic because I warned the ref three times about [Bennett] throughout the game, so it was pretty funny that he [pulled me out],” Pisko said. “He pulled me out and from there it reached a boiling point.”
“Somebody tied me up and I looked up and saw that Marbach and Mullen were fighting and I thought to myself, ‘OK I can’t get into a fight here, we have a big game next week and those two are going to be out already,’” Pisko added. “So I kept my cool there thinking I was going to be in the game next week and then Thursday night before Virginia Tech I get the call that I wasn’t going to be playing.”
Fighting in front of the net ensued with Mullen joining in seconds later and fighting Bennett.
“I saw [Bennett] going after Pisko,” Mullen said. “Their goalie waved me down and I said no. I didn’t want to fight. We were losing and I wanted to keep as much respect in the club as we could.”
“I wasn’t even looking and suddenly everyone started screaming and I looked down and Rowan’s goalie is fighting Pisko,” Mullen added. “I went down instantly. I’m not going to let my teammate get jumped and you have to stick up for your teammate in that situation.”
Eight suspensions were handed out in total in the coming days after the fighting, four to each side with three players and the head coach of each team receiving suspensions.
“It’s a tough situation,” assistant coach Ryan Frain said. “We were down 5–2 with a minute left with the top line out there to get some production and stuff happens. The guys were frustrated being down three goals. We hadn’t won at Rowan in five years and things got chippy at the end and it started. Fighting’s part of the game and it’s unfortunate that it happened and that the penalties were handed out like that.”
While the suspensions to Mullen and Marbach were expected, the same cannot be said for that of Pisko, whose six-game suspension caught the Temple brass by surprise. Roberts will appeal the suspension to the MACHA board this week in the attempt to reduce it, Frain said.
Roberts couldn’t be reached for comment after the club’s loss to Rider.
“I can’t find a reason why they’d give Pisko six games,” Frain said. “It’s mind-blowing to me. It sucks and we’re trying to go through the appeals process but for now we have to move forward and play our game as if he was in the lineup.”
Pisko, who led the team in goals (12) and points (17) before the suspension, will await the league’s verdict this week on his appeal.
“I had that feeling that I was one of the guys targeted as far as the review went,” Pisko said. “I had zero penalty minutes when the game was over and after that review was done, I was one of the guys that got hit the hardest. I don’t know why it was me, I don’t agree that it [should’ve been] me and I don’t agree with what came out but it is what it is for now.”
Marbach served his suspension in Friday’s loss to Virginia Tech and promptly scored a goal upon his return in Saturday’s defeat against Rider. Mullen has one game left on his suspension and will be active for Saturday’s away game against Montclair State. Roberts will be back behind the bench next weekend.
The only player left outstanding through next weekend will be Pisko, for the time being.
“I said to [Roberts] on the phone that it’s been a learning experience watching from the other end of it,” Pisko said. “I’m not used to not playing and it’s good to see the other side of it, but one game’s enough for me.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @daParent93.