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A FIGHT NOT WORTH WINNING
If only NHL president John Ziegler would pay heed to the crackdown on hockey violence that took place on Sunday at the World Junior Championships in Piestany, Czechoslovakia. In the tournament's final game, between Canada and the Soviet Union, the two teams sparred on and off for nearly a period and a half, then got into a 20-minute bench-clearing melee so fierce that the referee and linesmen had to take refuge off the ice. At one point the arena lights were turned off in a vain effort to quell the fight. Finally the players, plum tuckered out, simply gave up the fight.
With order restored, officials of the International Ice Hockey Federation huddled for 15 minutes, then decided to toss Canada and the U.S.S.R. out of the tournament. Players on the disqualified teams were ordered to stay away from the closing ceremonies and banquet. Nor is that all. At its annual congress meeting in Vienna in April, the IIHF will consider banning both teams from the 1988 world championships. That would be especially embarrassing for the Soviets, because the event is scheduled to be held in Leningrad.
The vote to disqualify the combatants in Piestany was 8-1. The dissenter was IIHF board member Dennis McDonald, an official of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, who took a soft-on-violence position that will have a familiar ring back home, where the NHL sets the tone by tolerating and even encouraging on-ice fighting. "This kind of thing is completely foreign to them [Europeans]," said McDonald. "I argued that the suspension in this case should have been against the individuals—the main participants in the fighting and the main individuals who led the charges from the benches. The teams should not have been suspended."
Oh, yes—the Canadian team stood to overtake first-place Finland and win the gold medal if it had beaten the Soviets by at least five goals, and it was leading 4-2 when the hostilities erupted. With the disqualification, the gold medal went to Finland. Lamented McDonald, "We won the fight and lost the medal."
EVERY PASS WAS A FROZEN ROPE
When people are cooped up in a cold, lonely place for any length of time, they're apt to come up with some nutty ways of amusing themselves. This is one of the nuttiest: A group of staffers at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott station, located a mere 400 feet from the South Pole, decided to challenge their replacements to a football game. Since the Navy was flying in the new personnel at New Year's, and since that is the heart of bowl season back home, the players dubbed their game the Pole Bowl. They played four 10-minute quarters on a field of 100,000-year-old, 9,299-foot-thick ice. They had planned to broadcast the game via ham radio to anybody who might happen to pick up the signal, but they couldn't get the generator to work.
Since all 24 of the time zones converge at the South Pole, the teams could have chosen, depending not only on the time of day but also on exactly where they laid out their field, to play on either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, or even to move the second half of the game into the previous year. They wound up kicking off at approximately 9 p.m. EST on Dec. 31, they think.
The outpost had no stash of football equipment, so the players wore their everyday outfits of super-insulated parkas, boots and gloves. Temperature at game time was—30�F, and a steady breeze made it feel like 45 below. These were thought to be ideal conditions since, after all, it's summer in Antarctica.
The outcome? Nobody recalls the score, but a member of the crew that just finished its three-month tour at the pole reports: "We inflicted major damage on 'em."