ALLAN CROW on the fight that said so much about Fife Flyers team spirit
When was the last time a Brit and an import dropped the gloves and went toe to toe centre ice - in traditional hockey style?
Saturday night and midway through a rollicking, pulsating opening period between Fife Flyers and Braehead Clan, step forward Tommy Muir and Brock McPherson.
The puck was dropped, everything stopped, helmets removed, gloves dropped, sticks discarded, and they slugged away.
It was a long fight too, with both throwing big punches and both avoiding being tied up as they physically held at each other at arm’s length.
Kudos to both for going the distance and to the match officials for letting them – you don’t often see fights of that duration this side of the Pond. A couple of smacks and a wee roll around the ice and it’s all over.
This was different.
This was a true toe to toe with neither player willing to be first to end it or nod to the stripey to say ‘’okay that’ll do.’’
That takes guts.
What matters most to fans is simple – who won?
Clan fans seem to mistake getting the last punch or ‘’getting the take down’’ – and I cannot say how much I despise that stupid wrestling term coming into ice hockey - for a result.
This wasn’t settling a score.
This was about team spirit.
For McPherson it was his way of galvanising a team in a state of torpor and so far out of this match it was in danger of folding before the end of the first.
That, more than anything, is why he gestured to his fans as he headed to the bin to serve the obligatory five for fighting.
For Tommy, it was standing up for his team.
Things were getting niggly, some verbals were being chucked around the pad and between the benches.
Somewhere on the pad, McPherson made it clear he’d go. A nod. A gesture. The universal, unspoken language of ice hockey.
Muir stepped up and took on a big guy.
A Brit going head to head with an import in such traditional style is a pretty rare occurrence.
Tommy can certainly chuck ‘em, and he more than stood his ground with McPherson.
And in stepping up to the plate he showed everything that is good about the team spirit in Fife’s dressing-room.
Take it as read, every guy on the bench will have made their appreciation known back in the dressing-room.
They both did.
Job done, hockey style.