Inferno outduel Shooting Stars 9-7 in fight-filled affair in Toronto

It was a contentious game from stem to stern between Brampton and Toronto. (Photo: Tim Prothero, VintageLax)
It was a contentious game from stem to stern between Brampton and Toronto. (Photo: Tim Prothero, VintageLax)

Bubba Durno had 1 second of playing time and 29 minutes in penalties. That’s the kind of night it was as the Brampton Inferno went into Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre and emerged with a 9-7 win over the Shooting Stars that had just about everything happening in it. Durno went after the Inferno’s Ben McCullough—who had pounded on Toronto’s Joe Wasson while Wasson was on the floor the last time the teams met—right after the opening faceoff of the Canadian Lacrosse League game. Durno earned 19 PIM for that tilt, including a game misconduct for being the instigator. You may wonder how he managed to get 10 more later; well, Durno’s role in the strange evening was far from over. After the jump, see the story of the CLax games that inflamed passions on the floor, in the team benches, the penalty boxes and in the stands.

Brampton ran out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of power play goals and a shorthander by McCullough. Brad Levick potted one to get the Stars on the board before the end of the first. Also before the first period expired, McCullough and Brian Croswell took coincidental minors in the final minute of play. While Croswell sat in the box, a fan heckled him enthusiastically. Croswell made his way out of the back of the penalty box to interact with the fan and Durno, sitting nearby in street clothes watching the game, inserted himself into the conversation. A pair of fans were ejected, Croswell returned to the penalty box and the game continued.

Toronto scored a pair of goals 41 seconds apart in the second quarter to creep back into the game, but a matching pair by the Inferno made it 6-3 at half time. In the third quarter, the teams mostly kept to lacrosse—there were just three minor penalties—and Brampton stretched its lead to 8-4.

The craziness returned in the fourth quarter, much of it developing around Angus Dineley’s crease. The Toronto goalie, whose fracas with Brock Boyle in the teams’ last matchup was the impetus for much of the nastiness between them in that game and carrying over into tonight, took exception to Boyle going hard to the net again. Eventually Josh Ruys jumped on top of Boyle, knocking him to the ground, and tried to pummel him repeatedly while referee Ian Garrison worked hard to pull Ruys off and restrain him.

Ruys was given a game misconduct (as was Boyle for earning his second major penalty in the game) and was being escorted to the dressing room tunnel. He didn’t go quietly, however, and dragged Garrison over in front of the Brampton bench, where he made it clear he was ready to take on anyone who cared to go.

In the meantime, the Stars had fought back to make a game of it. They scored three straight goals, including a pair of power play markers by Josh Wasson, to pull within one at 8-7 and they had a ton of momentum. The third goal of the run came at 11:12 and Ruys imbroglio with Boyle came at 11:28.

When Dustin Caravello scored a power play goal at 13:46 to bump Brampton’s lead to 9-7, the lacrosse side of the night was pretty much over. Josh Wasson went after McCullough, throwing a series of punches that made little or no contact while McCullough mostly smiled at him, eventually holding him at arm’s length with one gloved hand until the refs interceded.

They managed to play another 39 seconds before things spiralled completely out of control. Scott Gamble of Toronto instigated a fight with Jeremy Crowder. Shooting Stars leading scorer Aaron Grayson and Brampton’s Kyle Andrews then stripped off their gloves and helmets and went toe-to-toe in a spirited middleweight bout.

Tensions were high between the benches when Inferno backup goalie Steve Fryer threw a water bottle over the plexiglass walls that either hit Toronto coach Glenn Clark or landed very close to him. Clark grabbed a bottle and returned fire, launching his projectile well past the Brampton bench and into the tunnel to their dressing room. Clark then rushed across the space between the benches and banged on the plexiglass. After that, things got a little difficult to keep up with, especially once Dineley fired a ball at the Brampton bench.

The Stars poured from their bench over to the Inferno’s space. Boyle and Coffey left the penalty box to run across the floor and join the fray. Ruys saw Boyle coming and returned to the floor to grab him and throw him to the ground. McCullough was backing his way along the Inferno bench throwing punches at someone out of sight as he went (it appears that it was Dilan Graham since he popped up from the bench shortly thereafter). Durno was exchanging words and shoves with Brampton coach Steve McCarthy.

To really get a sense of what went on, you should go watch the video. The brawl starts at about the 2:15 mark. There was a game before it, though, that was exciting if rather long with all the stoppages. And it was important, too, since the loss left the Shooting Stars (7-3) two points behind the Niagara Lock Monsters for first place in CLax. Brampton moved to 5-5 and into a fourth-place tie with Durham.

The Shooting Stars and Lock Monsters will tangle tonight at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at 8 pm in a game that means even more to Toronto after their loss Thursday. Niagara, meanwhile, sits at 8-2 and hasn’t lost since inserting goalie Connor Danko into the lineup six games ago. The Durham Turfdogs (5-4) visit the Ohsweken Demons in tonight’s other game, also at 8 pm at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.

The Canadian Lacrosse League (‘CLax’) has issued the following statement with regards to the incident that ended last night’s game between the Toronto Shooting Stars and the Brampton Inferno:

As with all levels of play in all sports leagues, CLax does not condone the actions between the Toronto Shooting Stars and Brampton Inferno at the end of the regular season game Thursday March 14th in Toronto.

The CLax Discipline Committee will review the incident in full and assess any resulting discipline according to league policy.

As we continue to grow as a league CLax will continue to re-evaluate its policies, in the hope of preventing similar incidents in the future.

Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at stamplax@hotmail.com.

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