Rough 'n' Raiter

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:49 AM ET

For more than a year, the Hockey Enforcers spectacle couldn't find a home.

But now that the on-ice punch-up has a place to happen, Mark Raiter can't wait to pay a visit and lay the smack down.

The Leduc scrapper and former Western Hockey League tough guy will be part of the 16-man slugfest in Prince George, B.C., on Aug. 27.

"A year passed, and I didn't think this was going to happen," said Raiter, a six-foot-five, 250-pounder who was quick to sign up when the event was originally set for Winnipeg last summer.

"After the new year, I didn't hear anything more after three or four locations turned it down. I doubted it would go, but when Prince George said yes I was on the phone to the promoter right away."

Then known as Hockey Gladiators, it was cancelled for violating the Criminal Code of Canada under rules for prizefighting. When it was finally cleared legally, Prince George city council nixed the plan before quickly backtracking.

"You might get a broken nose or get a little bloodied up, but it's not any more violent than boxing, the WWE or ultimate fighting," said Raiter.

Raiter and his fellow sluggers will be placed in four pools of four, with the winner of each pool advancing to the semifinals.

Each fight will be a maximum of one minute, with the combatants wearing full hockey equipment, but sporting four-ounce fingerless gloves instead of bare knuckles.

Among the fighters in contention are former Boston Bruin Lyndon Byers, one-time Oiler Link Gaetz and ex-St. Albert Saint Paul Braaten.

The 32-year-old Raiter was the 92nd pick in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs, he attended two camps with the Leafs but never advanced beyond the low minors.

Winning the $62,500 championship purse and the title of top enforcer would go a long way to alleviating feelings of missed opportunities.

"I'm not as well-known as some of the other guys because my career didn't go as far as theirs," said Raiter.

"You have to respect every opponent, but if you give them too much respect, you'll talk yourself out of doing the best of your ability.

"I'm not nervous. I like going in as the underdog. They might not pay any attention to me, and they'll wind up with a big surprise."

Raiter will have a cast of supporters cheering him on at the west-end Beer Hunter pub during the pay-per-view broadcast . Proceeds from the admission to fight at the bar, a golf tournament and sales of "Raiter-sized" shirts will go to The Bear Children's Fund.


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