PHILADELPHIA – To think that the evening began so peacefully for the Potulny brothers.
Certainly Mrs. Potulny did not raise her sons to behave this way, but the box score of Friday night’s Hershey-Philadelphia game would seem to indicate otherwise.
Hershey winger Grant Potulny and his younger brother, Philadelphia centreman Ryan Potulny, both received fighting majors at the 15:59 mark of the second period in Philadelphia’s 5-2 win over their archrival. They received those penalties with their mother, Beth, in town from North Dakota.
But chalk it up to a case of mistaken identity. Though they were involved in the same 10-player skirmish, they never fought each other.
Grant Potulny received the fighting major that should have gone to teammate Ben Clymer.
Calm before the storm
Pre-game, the night began with the two brothers posing together for a picture near the team benches following the conclusion of warm-up.
Post-game, the evening’s developments provided plenty of humourous fodder.
"We said, ‘What it's going to look like in the box score’," Grant Potulny related.
Said Ryan Potulny: "I'm the one who has to go out to dinner with my mom, not him (Grant Potulny had a bus ride back to Hershey for tonight’s game with Norfolk), so I'm sure I'll hear about that.
"But I told him when we were in the penalty box, 'All the guys are going to call us. We should tell them we went at centre ice and threw blows, went toe-to-toe.' But I don't think that will work out too well with the guys."
Grant Potulny chuckled at his younger brother’s predicament.
"He did say that he's the one that has to go out to dinner with mom. I get to get on the bus and go home. He's got to explain that to mom."
Grant Potulny, a meat-and-potatoes winger, is the far more experienced scrapper of the two. Ryan Potulny, on the other hand, owned just 18 penalty minutes, and the fighting major was his first as a pro.
With the Phantoms controlling the game at 4-1, the Bears objected to a hit that Ryan Potulny delivered on Hershey’s Jay Beagle in the corner in the Phantoms’ end of the ice.
Beagle appeared to emerge from the hit unscathed, but Clymer immediately came to Beagle’s aid and tied up with Ryan Potulny.
Ryan Potulny’s linemate, Steve Downie, bee-lined into the scrap and began delivering several shots to the Hershey defenceman. Referee Ryan Fraser deemed Downie to be the third man in and ended the rambunctious rookie’s evening early with a game misconduct.
Meanwhile, Grant Potulny was near the Hershey bench at the end of his shift when the scrum began and proceeded to make his way into the fray as it intensified.
"I just saw Downie swinging,” Grant Potulny said, "so I came in there.
Somehow we ended up going down, the three of us [Clymer and the two Potulny brothers], and I ended up on top of Ryan. I don't know."
When the gathering broke up, Fraser handed the Potulny brothers matching fighting majors and tacked on a boarding minor to Ryan Potulny.
Both brothers acknowledged that if they did have to fight each other, they would.
"If it had to be, it had to be," Ryan Potulny explained. "Obviously, we're friends and family off the ice, but on the ice, everything goes. Luckily, it didn't have to be me and him. I don't think it will ever come to that, but if it does, it does."
The older brother concurred.
"Even though he's your brother,” Grant Potulny said, "when it's 4-1 or
4-2 or whatever it was, he hit a guy from behind. If it ended up being me and him, it ended up being me and him. I was going there to do something and ended up kind of falling or whatever."
"At that point, he doesn't have hard feelings towards me, and I wouldn't have hard feeling towards him. He knows I've got to do my job, and he's got to do his job."
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