Whether you are an avid fan, a casual viewer, or never watched the sport at all, when you hear “hockey” among first things that comes to mind is fighting. The Portland Winterhawks are not strangers to this part of the game, so why not count down the top 10 best fights in the 2012-‘13 season? With 52 fights so far, narrowing them down to a top ten seemed nearly impossible. However, with a little help from some big fights late in the season and videos from Hockeyfights.com, the list came together quite nicely. Without further ado, your top ten fights of the season:
10) How could this list not start with Joe Mahon? He could have a top ten list of his own, but do not worry; you will be seeing a lot of him here. The mutual helmet removal, the talking, and the smiling almost make Mahon and Jesse Mychan of the Tri-City Americans look like good friends. That is if your definition of a good friend is someone you try to knockout in front of a crowd at center ice. This one is short, sweet, and a great way to kick off the countdown.
9) Defenseman Derrick Pouliot is not known for his fighting. The 8th overall pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins is a more technical player than a bruiser, but against Mike Aviani of the Spokane Chiefs, he proves that he can hold his own. What makes this fight great is how quickly it starts after Pouliot is spilled by a big hit. They both instantly engage and Pouliot immediately starts throwing uppercuts. Aviani also gets some good shots in the end before they both tumble to the ice. It is uncommon to see two smaller fighters who rarely go at it put on a show like this and that is what earns Pouliot and Aviani the number nine spot on the list.
8) There are few things more exciting than a goalie fight, especially when it is with a skater rather than the other goalie. You would be hard-pressed to find a net minder more willing to throw down than Mac Carruth. In this altercation he questions the phantom check to the head that Jesse Mychan tried to sell. The hit Carruth took exception to is worth looking at (1:30 mark). Unfortunately, Pouliot gets roughed up pretty bad in the end of the fight by Wil Tomchuck however, the real value of this fight is watching Carruth step right up and take some shots for justice.
7) In this fight Mahon faces off against Scott Cooke of the Vancouver Giants. After Cooke’s attempt to bully him in front of the net, Mahon takes issue and reminds Cooke who he is messing with. The way Mahon dominates this fight all the way through sends a clear message that he is not to be messed with. This fight would rank much higher on the list if there was more participation from both parties.
6) If there is one thing it seems like Mahon does not like, it’s being pushed around. The 6’5” Mahon and equally large Ben Betker of the Everett Silvertips makes for a great battle of the bigs. The shoving around the net quickly escalates into an intense matchup between the two giants with Mahon getting the best of Betker.
5) We’re halfway through and there is nobody better than Joe Mahon to lead us into the top five. This fight is great because Mahon unloads with a big hit in play and immediately follows up by defending himself in a fight. The classic big hit followed by a big fight is the ultimate enforcer highlight, especially if you are on the good side of both of those. Kale Kessy of the Kamloops Blazer gets a nice helping of knuckle sandwiches in this one and Mahon gets to skate off the ice with brand new teeth marks in his fists.
4) Adam De Champlain does not like Jesse Forseberg of the Seattle Thunderbirds and he felt the best way to tell him was with his fists. Forseberg got the better of De Champlain early in the season but the tables were turned in this one. Fireworks were flying in this New Year’s Eve fight embodies the disdain between the Winterhawks and Thunderbirds. The big right hand just before the two players fall to the ice shows the power of De Champlain.
3) Adam De Champlain is the team’s second most frequent fighter and despite being only 6’1” 177 pounds, he gets a lot into his punches. He gets into this one against Jared Hauf of the Seattle Thunderbirds. The instant and unrelenting barrage punches from both players is glorious. Both of them go after each other with no concern for their own well being which is always a main ingredient for an entertaining fight. Also there are several points in this altercation where it seems like it will end but these two just keep going. Their willingness to hit each other in the face would make any father proud. What makes it even better is that this is not De Champlain’s only fight of the game. His other fight against Jerret Smith also has to be included in this ranking. While not nearly as long or closely contested as the first, De Champlain defends himself after being challenged because he made a big hit. Not a bad night Mr. De Champlain, not bad at all.
2) If you know anything about sports in the Northwest, you know that the I-5 rivalry between Seattle in Portland ups the excitement of players as well as the fans. That was certainly the case when Portland hosted Seattle on December 15. There were five fights (including three involving Mahon) and the fourth fight could be argued as the best of the year. While it was short, Mahon weathered the storm of punches thrown by Taylor Green and selected the perfect window to strike. The result was a devastating uppercut that instantly dropped Green to the ice. Not to be outdone by himself, Mahon finished his hat trick of fights against Mitch Elliot who had two fights of his own this game. The context is more exciting than the fight itself because Elliot had previously done the “discount double check” move to the Portland bench and crowd after defeating De Champlain. Mahon was able to return the favor after dropping Elliot.
1) Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you have been waiting for is here and it sure is a treat. While it is not quite a full line brawl, Portland’s top three fighters Mahon, De Champlain, and Joey Baker square off against the trio of Jeremy McIntosh, Riley Whittingham, and Carter Proft of Spokane. You may have to replay it a few times to catch all the action, but this fight speaks for itself. Enjoy.