It seemed like a perfect February Sunday for a hockey fan to catch some good ice action.
Start at the Capital Centre in the afternoon with the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers and end in the evening at the Baltimore Arena with the respective teams' AHL affiliates, the Skipjacks and the Hershey Bears, doing battle.
For the many in the area that caught both games -- either live or the front end on HTS -- it was as Jacks forward Steve Seftel said, "kinda like deja vu." It wasn't the same game twice, but it was the next best thing.
Both were blowouts, in favor of the Capitals and the Skipjacks, and both were among the longest, nastiest, roughest and toughest games you'll see in this season or any other.
The Caps and Flyers -- a 3 1/2 -hour extravaganza that had the hosts on top 5-2 -- featured 294 penalty minutes and 11 ejections, including 10 fights with three all-out, full-ice brawls. The lowlights included a tussle between goalies Pete Peeters and Don Beaupre, and Flyers coach Paul Holmgren banging an aluminum stick on the home team's barrier glass and cursing Caps coach Terry Murray.
"We've been very good friends for years," said Murray, whose team has won three in a row. "We lived next door to each other when we played for the Flyers in the '70s. We used to drive to practice and eat together every day. But sometimes in the heat of battle you begin to take things a bit personally and things are said that later you'll regret. We didn't talk after the game but I'd like to think that Paul Holmgren and I are still friends. I hope that one game wouldn't change that."
Meanwhile, some Skipjacks were preparing for their game by watching the afternoon's proceedings on HTS, laughing about how it couldn't happen to them.
"I was over Todd Hlushko's house and we were joking about how it got out of hand and then this happened," said defenseman Jim Mathieson, who was involved in the first of eight fights at the Arena in the Jacks' 9-5 victory.
Not on the same level as the Caps-Flyers brawls, the big one here took place with 37 seconds remaining in the second period after Jiri Vykoukal scored to give the Jacks a 6-3 lead.
Five separate fights broke out at once and before it was over Jacks goalie Jim Hrivnak went the length of the ice at full speed and freight-trained Bears goalie Dominic Roussel for attempting to become involved in a fight between Vykoukal and Mark Bassen, who had already been pounded by Steve Maltais.
Six players were ejected, including both goalies, and 171 minutes were handed out by game's end from referee Dave Jackson.
"It's kind of funny because I came in before the game and told Jimmy [Hrivnak] about what happened with Beaupre and Peeters in Washington," Seftel said. "He told me he'd never been involved in one of those but said he go in there all gung-ho if the opportunity presented itself. I guess this was the perfect chance for him to get involved."
The fights served to benefit a few players who didn't serve penalty time, as defenseman Mark Ferner scored four goals and right wing Thomas Sjogren scored a pair for the Jacks. The Bears were led by a hat trick from Bill H. Armstrong.
"It's bound to happen when you play a team 14 times in a season," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird. "Sometimes the games get a little lopsided and tensions start to mount. My biggest concern was that no one get hurt. It got a little nasty out there and I really started to empathize with the referee because it makes his job hard."