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PREP ICE HOCKEY: FIGHTING DILEMMA IN PREP HOCKEY COACHES ASK, `HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?'.

Byline: Lee Barnathan Staff Writer

To fight or not to fight?

Coaches of the new high school ice hockey league at the Ice Station in Valencia know fighting is a part of the game, but that doesn't mean they condone it.

Earlier this week, in a Monday game between Saugus and Granada Hills, Saugus defenseman Tyler Gue and Granada Hills forward Jason Diamond threw punches. The overflow crowd loved it. The players received one-game suspensions, meaning Gue will miss Monday's game against Hart, and Diamond is out against Canyon. Diamond is second in the league with 15 points and first with 31 penalty minutes.

The coaches, meanwhile, were left with the same conundrum: Is there a place at this level for fighting?

Neither Granada Hills coach Peter Petersen nor Saugus' Wade Williams said they condoned such actions, although Petersen said he wanted his goalie protected (goalie Eric Diamond was hit, which started the brawl).

``Jason should've given him a push, but the other guy started swinging,'' Petersen said, ``so what are you going to do?''

Williams resisted the urge to break up the fight, but he made it clear Gue would be doing menial tasks such as the team laundry as further punishment.

``Fans have been conditioned to cheer for that. I would rather have them cheer for a really good pass or a really good deke,'' Williams said. ``I tell (the players), 'Go for the puck.' But a lot of other teams go for the hit.''

--What's in a name? All teams represent their high school, except for the Antelope Valley Northerners. That team is made up of players from various Antelope Valley-area schools.

--Vikings struggles: Valencia is 1-4 and tied for last in the six-team league, having surrendered a league-high 38 goals. Coach Monty Hargraves sees the troubles as twofold: The Vikings are mostly freshmen and sophomores and most haven't played ice hockey before.

However, many have played roller hockey, which helps, Hargarves said, but there are marked differences. Roller hockey has no checking, skates four on four instead of five to a side, and skaters often take long- sweeping circles to stop instead of sharp stops an ice blade allows.

Young players need time to adjust, Hargraves said, especially to the checking. The Vikings often are as much as 30 pounds lighter and nine inches shorter than opponents.

``Some get hit hard and some continue to get hit pretty hard,'' Hargraves said.

--Gone home: Granada Hills forward Jonathan Perez, tied for fourth with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in four games, will miss the rest of the regular season because he went back to his prep school in the East. Perez was eligible to play in this league because he attended Granada Hills for a year and his parents live there. He played here while on vacation from his school.

He will return in April for the playoffs. The Highlanders likely won't miss his scoring too much, since they have six other scorers in the top 10.

--Midgets honored: The Valencia Express, a Midget A (ages 15-18) team, will be honored tonight. The Express was the first team formed at the center. High school players who were on the team include Peter Petersen, Justin Dyke and Eric Diamond of Granada Hills, forward Joey Howard of Saugus and Valencia goalie Matt Onstad.

STANDINGS

Team Record Points GF GA

Saugus 5-0 10 35 4

Granada Hills 4-1 8 40 19

Hart 2-3 4 25 31

AV Northeners 2-3 4 16 27

Canyon 1-4 2 12 24

Valencia 1-4 2 15 38

Today's games

No games scheduled

Monday's games

Granada Hills vs. Valencia, 6:15 p.m.

Saugus vs. AV Northeners, 6:45 p.m.

Canyon vs. Hart, 7:45 p.m.

CAPTION(S):

box

Box: Standings (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 31, 2001
Words:630
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