1994: Fife Flyers-Whitley Warriors' weekend mayhem sparked by a gouging goalie

It’s the sort of hockey chaos that old timers laugh about over a beer as the anecdotes are rolled out one more time.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 4:34 pm
Fife Flyers v Whitley Warriors - pictured are Mark Morrison, and Warriors' defenceman Mike Rowe (Pic: Bill Dickman/Fife Free Press)
Fife Flyers v Whitley Warriors - pictured are Mark Morrison, and Warriors' defenceman Mike Rowe (Pic: Bill Dickman/Fife Free Press)

November 1994 will be remembered as the weekend when Whitley Warriors’ goalies had a meltdown amid mayhem which carried across back to back games with Fife Flyers.

The first match in Kirkcaldy saw Flyers skate to an easy 9-1 game.

Back then Flyers were coached by Jim Lynch, and their import roster included Tony Szabo, Mark Morrison, Ryan Kummu, Josh Boni and Milan Figala.

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Fife Flyers, Tony Szabo (left) with defenceman, and Milan Figala (Pic: Bill Dickman)

Warriors had Peter Bender on the bench, Mike Rowe spreading fear on the ice, and an import roster which included Brian Verbeek, brother of NHLer, Pat, and future Flyer, Steve Brown.

Fife’s win on home ice came courtesy of goals from Szabo - a hat-trick - Morrison (2+3) and Kummu 2+2.

But the big numbers were the PIMs - Warriors’ 194, Fife 51. The total was inflated by Warriors’ netminder Kevin Dean who was thrown out for gouging Szabo.

Amid the chaos, back-up goalie, Peter Graham, leaned over the bench and waved a white towel in mock surrender, and Rowe sparked fury as he flicked a stick into Section G.

Josh Boni (left) with Craig Wilson

He said he was just removing it from the ice pad. The fans who caught it three rows back disagreed.

Warriors had five players thrown out in total, leaving them with just eight skaters.

Fast forward 24 hours to the return match at Hillheads Road.

You could sense the adrenalin pumping through some players as they skated round the tight ice pad with an intensity you don’t often see pre-game.

Referee Graeme Horner dished out 18 PIMs in the opening ten minutes in a bid to keep a lid on the pressure cooker, but the opening exchanges were becoming sharper, often vicious – Verbeek threw a punch from the bin and wasn’t even punished.

It wasn’t all one-way.

Josh Boni, a master at winding up opponents, was called for roughing at 8:33. As the ref’s arm went up to signal the penalty, netminder Graham headed for the bench, but only after skating directly at Boni while waving his stick head height like the rotor blade on a helicopter.

Five minutes later, Graham cynically chopped down Steven King, and he was tossed on a five plus game.

This time he skated to the team bench, handed over his helmet and bolted along the red line, gaining speed with every step.

With his goalie’s stick high above his head, he launched himself at a seated Boni. The sheer physical effort lifted Graham off his skates, and he dangled briefly on the boards before turning and exiting the game on a gross misconduct. Boni fled the sin bin with a speed he rarely showed on the ice.

The drama wasn’t over yet.With both senior goalies out, Warriors turned to Tony McAleevy, netminder with ED1 outfit Whitley Renegades.

Within minutes later, he was floored by a slapshot from Kummu which split his forehead and resulted in a lengthy delay while he was treated.

He had to continue as Warriors had run out of goalies, and the script decreed that that kid came back, played a blinder, and backstopped the team to a 5-4 win.

Lengthy bans followed for Dean and Graham.

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