It's probably a good thing Salt Lake and Fort Wayne played the last of their four games this season Wednesday night. Next time World War III might break out.
"There seems to be a real feud between us and I don't know why," said Fort Wayne Coach Al Sims after the two rivals from opposite IHL divisions played another wild game at the Salt Palace.One thing Sims knows is that his team doesn't know how to win in Salt Lake. The Eagles beat his team for the 11th straight time here since 1987, taking a 5-3 victory before 5,405 fans.
The two teams played their second game in three nights with a very familiar script - lots of fighting and penalties, complaints about the officiating from both sides, a pair of goals by an Eagle known more for his fighting ability, not to mention a another come-from behind victory by the Eagles.
Like Monday night, the Eagles overcame a 2-goal second-period deficit and scored the winning goal in the final period.
"I can't say enough about our guys, the way they responded," said Eagle Coach Bob Francis. "We could have been thrown off track, but we kept our focus with a gritty effort."
The Eagles were led by Kerry Clark, who has been the team's enforcer this season with a team-high 208 penalty minutes. Wednesday he didn't get into any skirmishes, but he did score two goals and an assist and thrilled the crowd with a moonwalk celebration. With 10 goals, Clark has already surpassed his goal total of last year when he had seven for Phoenix.
"It's sort of a bonus for me when I get a goal," said Clark. "The main thing for me is to keep up my plus-minus, play the wing and help the team win."
Clark's first goal, a great individual effort where he circled in from the right corner and flipped in a backhand shot, tied the score at 1-1. Shortly after that came the main event as three separate fights broke out, resulting in 88 penalty minutes and five ejections.
First Salt Lake's Paul Kruse and the Komets' Kevin Kaminski, who had fought Monday night with Kruse getting the decision, squared off. But before they could throw any punches, the Komets' Steve Fletcher came flying in to hit Kruse. Then Kaminski and the Eagles' Todd Harkins went at it, before Salt Lake's Bryan Deasley and Robin Bawa had a long battle behind the net.
All but Kruse were thrown out with game misconducts, but the officials evened the count a few minutes later when Salt Lake's Andrew McKim was given a game misconduct for a slash on Bruce Boudreau.
In the meantime, the Komets went ahead 2-1 on a slapshot by Bob Lakso.
After 111 minutes of penalties in the first period, a hockey game finally broke out for the second and third periods as both coaches scrambled their short-handed lineups and the fisticuffs settled down.
The Komets went ahead 3-1 on Lonnie Loach's 18th goal of the year. But Salt Lake struck back quickly with a pair of goals in a 19-second span. First Kruse knocked in a rebound off a Clark shot off the boards. Then Clark connected from 10 feet inside the blue line at the 14:48 mark to even the score.
Clark's post-goal celebration rivaled the best of NFL endzone antics as he did his moonwalk halfway down the ice and then added a few disco moves.
"I was kind of pumped up after getting the tying goal," said Clark.
Francis who isn't a big fan of such behavior, was able to laugh this one off. "I had to make a line change because I didn't think he had any energy left after that," he said.
The Eagles got the game-winner early in the final period when C.J. Young tipped in a shot by Rich Chernomaz from 25 feet out. Chernomaz added an empty-net goal with five seconds left.
Like he did Monday night, Fort Wayne's Sims laid much of the blame on the officials. "They kind of took away from the game by kicking so many people out. I don't know what the referee was doing."
The Eagles won't see the Salt Palace again for nearly three weeks - 19 days to be exact. In the meantime they'll play seven road games, beginning tonight in Phoenix and move on to San Diego for a Friday night game.