The emotions involved with a 9-3 Keller blowout in the Texas Amateur Hockey Association Silver Division state title game Sunday got the best of players for both Keller and Arlington Martin, resulting in an ugly altercation in the last minute of the game.
An elbow penalty by Martin’s Blaine Key along the end boards at Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch turned into a mass of players pushing and shoving. An Arlington Martin player, Jeff SoRelle, came out of the penalty box to lay a hard, blindside hit on a Keller player against the boards.
SoRelle was then punched by a Keller player, Braxton Mills, who skated full speed from the other side of the rink. Mills had been sent off the ice earlier in the game and re-entered the rink to issue the retaliation, AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League commissioner David Ambler said.
“Nonetheless, there wasn’t a whole lot that went on after that,” Ambler said. “I think everyone was kind of in shock of everything there. Things seemed to be calmed down quickly after that. The referees were doing their job. Security was trying to keep things down on the fan/spectator side.”
Both coaches did a good job keeping the players that were on the team benches from entering the ice once the altercation began, Keller hockey club president Kevin Wicks said.
SoRelle and Mills are seniors and have been suspended from all USA Hockey-sanctioned events until an April 5 hearing is held, Ambler said. Any sanctions on the coaches or clubs will be handed down after a ruling has been made by the state committee at the April 5 hearing.
Keller finished the regular season as the third least penalized team in the Metroplex and Mills had only taken three minor penalties throughout the course of the season. Martin, on the other hand, finished the most penalized team in the area. SoRelle had only tallied eight penalty minutes in the regular season.
Fighting in Metroplex high school hockey is very atypical and Keller had not had one player suspended throughout the season due to a fighting major, Wicks said.
“It’s unfortunate that our first ever state championship is being overshadowed by this incident. However, I understand, due to the nature of the incident and the fact that there is pretty graphic video, that it’s natural people will want to know what happened,” Wicks said.
Martin team officials could not be reached for comment.
Both school districts declined to comment on the incident because the hockey teams are clubs not affiliated with the school districts. High school hockey in Texas is not a UIL-sanctioned sport.
“Since it is so unusual for this type of incident to happen, I think they’re all just trying to get through it and hope that it dies down and when we have our year-end banquet in a month they’ll be able to really celebrate it then,” Wicks said.