Written by Brandon George
Keller-Arlington Martin hockey state final brawl hospitalizes player with concussion, broken jaw (video)
Local amateur hockey officials will meet to determine the punishment for players involved in a nasty brawl that marred the end of a state championship game and hospitalized one player with serious injuries.
The game was played in Farmers Branch on Sunday afternoon between the club teams representing Keller and Arlington Martin high schools. Keller won the Silver League state title 9-3.
But it was the chaos that erupted in the final seconds that made news. It was captured in at least two videos that are circulating on YouTube.
One video shows Martin players slamming a pair of Keller players hard into the corner boards from behind during a scrum for the puck. A referee has his arm up to call the penalty, but a fight ensues before he has a chance.
Martin senior Jeff SoRelle, who had been in the penalty box when the fight started, is then seen skating full speed into view and launching himself into Keller’s Travis Hall.
As SoRelle skates slowly away, he is leveled by a blindside hit from Keller’s Braxton Mills. Mills had been off the ice, in the spectator area, because of a penalty but returned to the ice during the brawl. In one video, he appears to leave the ice while launching into SoRelle, apparently hitting him in the head.
SoRelle was sent sprawling to the ice as officials and others rushed in to break up the brawl.
“My son is a freshman, and he’s played hockey since he was 4,” said Heather Blundred, a member of the Martin booster club. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
David Ambler, the commissioner of the AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League, said he was told that SoRelle suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.
“I’m clearly disgusted with the actions of everybody on the ice,” said Ambler, who was at the game at the Dr Pepper StarCenter. “I’m disappointed with the way the players acted, being it was the last game and a state tournament event. It’s unfortunate it happened.”
The AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League suspends a player for three games for fighting, but this was the last game for SoRelle and Mills, so both seniors will be suspended from all USA Hockey-sanctioned events in the future, Ambler said. Keller coach Knute Anderson said Mills has been suspended from anything involving Keller Hockey.
Ambler said USA Hockey and the Texas Amateur Hockey Association will hold a hearing April 5 to review the situation and determine any disciplinary action against the players, coaches and teams involved in the incident. Ambler said both coaches and clubs will face further sanctions.
Martin coach Louie Greco couldn’t be reached for comment.
“At this point, we’re not sure what the further sanctions will be because, fortunately, we haven’t had this issue in the past. We’ll evaluate that Tuesday night and decide where we go from here,” Ambler said. “I know the coaches aren’t happy with the situation, and they did the best they could to control the situation. There certainly has to be a precedent set that this won’t be tolerated.”
Keith Andresen, senior director of hockey for the Dallas Stars and section president of the Texas Amateur Hockey Association, said he and an associate went on the ice to help separate the teams and restore order.
Police were not called, and no one has made a report of the incident to the police.
“We’re not bashful about calling the police,” Andresen said. “But there was no need to call them because the incident had stayed on the ice.”
Andresen said any penalties the players receive could carry over beyond high school.
“If this was their last game as high school seniors, the penalties will still apply if they go on to college under the USA Hockey rules,” he said.
Of the 22 teams in the AT&T league this year, Martin was the most penalized, with 487 penalty minutes to 230 for Keller. Neither Mills nor SoRelle had much of a history with penalties, however. SoRelle received only two penalties all season, and Mills had three.
“As a club, we’re addressing the situation to see if we have to enforce subsequent penalties on our side,” Anderson said.
Ambler said fighting won’t be tolerated in the league.
“It certainly dampened the whole experience for everyone,” Ambler said. “These guys will be in some trouble.”
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