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Reflecting on Fight Night on Chippewa Street

One of the craziest penalty-filled games at Memorial Gardens this century
2005 skyhawks fanfight
This Skyhawks fan watches on as a huge brawl breaks out. Photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

I have been to a lot of hockey games at many different levels since I started covering sports as an occupation back in the summer of 1994. 

This one particular game in March of 2005 certainly stands out as one of the craziest games I have ever had the opportunity to watch as a reporter or live spectator. 

Randy Edmonds, not known as someone who coaches a goon team, was the head coach of a strong North Bay Skyhawks team that eventually captured the NOJHL title that spring.  

I described it as the "Punch-up in Piestany 2.0."  

It was a game where turning out the lights may have really been a good alternative to try and stop all the fighting.  

There were more than 300 penalty minutes handed out, most of them in the final minutes of a 7-3 Skyhawks victory in game one of the NOJHL East Division semifinal against the Sudbury Northern Wolves.

See related: Fight night at Chippewa Street 

The fights broke out after a late hit in the Wolves corner and all eight skaters grabbed their partners which led to eight-game misconducts, leaving the goalies the only ones not escorted off the ice.

But that was nothing compared to what would unfold after play resumed. With 13 seconds left all players on the ice got involved in a little dance, however, when Wolves goalie Paul Pidutti came to a teammates aid, Josh Merson, fresh from laying a beating on his dance partner, came in and grabbed their goaltender.

That's when Northern Wolves coach Brian McGillis appeared to open his gates and the bench-clearing brawl officially began.

With more than 25 misconduct or fighting-related penalties handed out in the final seconds, it was unclear at the time how many players would actually get a chance to suit up for game two of the series in Copper Cliff. 

Edmonds, who is now a player agent recalls, "I remember that game it was crazy, it was so old school."  

The end of the game did not end well either. I recall players giving the media and fans the finger while they were coming off the ice. One player even threw his hockey gloves in our direction and hit a local reporter. 

There was talk of throat slashes made by one coach to another which led to the suspensions.  

Thankfully, I recall no serious injuries in the Fight Night on Chippewa Street. 

By the way, the Skyhawks ended up defeating the Northern Wolves and then knocked off the Northern Michigan Black Bears in the league final.   

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Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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