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Goalie fight alert: AHL netminders square off at center ice

By Eli Bernstein

For those who were disappointed by NHL refs putting the kibosh on Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj's attempted goalie scrap the other night, here's some advice: If you want to see men wearing comically large pads throw punches at each other, go find the nearest AHL franchise.

In a game between the Norfolk Admirals and Willkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night, Norfolk netminder and highly regarded Ducks prospect John Gibson teed off against counterpart Jeff Deslauriers. Gibson was taking a leisurely skate back to his crease after a timeout when he just happened to bump into Deslauriers near center ice. The two immediately engaged each other in a flurry of punches and fell to the ice before they were separated, and ancillary confrontations spawned around the ice as well.

To be fair, it's not that the AHL has a more lax policy toward goalie fights than the NHL. In this case, Gibson and Deslauriers just happened to be in no-man's land, away from any officials, and the fight erupted from out of nowhere. To their credit, the refs made a beeline for the action and cordoned off the scene from the surrounding skaters, doing a nice job of keeping everyone safe in the process.

Still, this being a hockey game, the fans (and perhaps a few of the players) probably went home happy after seeing their goalie-fight dreams finally realized.

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