Everything was going so well that evening for the Michigan athletic department. The basketball team had beaten Northwestern and pulled even in their conference record making their case for the NCAA tournament selection committee stronger. The hockey team was playing a great game against their arch rival Michigan State, they were up by two goals with less than a minute to play, thank you.
The Wolverines were about to wrap up their sixth straight victory over their little brothers the Spartans. The latter were not pleased about this outcome, but what could they do? A lot of damage that's what.
Steve Kampfer had a so so game, he assisted on an early goal in the first period and then he got juked in the second period on State's first goal later on in that period he had been playing either lethargic or tired, depending on your definition. But he was playing hard in the third period when he made a clean open ice hit on Corey Tropp in order to separate him from the puck. From my understanding of the rules of hockey there is nothing wrong with doing that, as long as the guy has the puck you can check him. Kampfer didn't have the puck, but that didn't stop Andrew Conboy from clotheslining him. As if that weren't enough, Tropp decided to get in on the action and hit him on the head with his stick, i guess it was for "good measure."
The melee that ensued was not as noteworthy, the fans got upset and started chanting "**** you State" and "sore losers." I was told later in the game that Kampfer's dad found out it was his son who had just been the victim of the on ice assault, he ran out of the parents section of the arena and started screaming at Rick Comley from behind the bench, and later allegedly stormed into the visiting locker room to confront Conboy, Tropp and Comley.
Profanity and chants and open ice hits are all part of hockey at Yost, but what Conboy and Tropp did was not normal. Personally i'd go so far as to call it aggravated assault, a felony under state law. I think that not only should Rick Comley move to expel those two players from the team the Washtenaw County prosecutor Brian L. Mackie should start drafting charges for aggravated assault on them as well.
What could have been a great day for the Michigan athletic department turned into a day of great shame for college hockey in general as we see it's greatest rivalry devolve into senseless violence. Hopefully somebody will make some sense out of this and see that Kampfer returns to the ice and to the classroom where he is working on a bachelor's in political science like me.
It's times like these when we realize how vulnerable we are as human beings.