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No criminal charges after CHL(Central Hockey League) hockey fight


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LARIMER COUNTY - According to the two teams involved, no criminal charges will be filed against a Colorado hockey team for taking part in several fights that happened during a game last weekend.

The exhibition game was between the Colorado Eagles and the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes on Saturday as part of the Central Hockey League. It was played at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

Larimer County Sheriff's investigators met with prosecutors Wednesday afternoon to discuss the case.

On Thursday afternoon, the two teams issued a joint letter where they announced that all parties involved withdrew their request for criminal charges in the matter.

The CHL started investigating the fights on Monday.

On Saturday, the Jackalopes forfeited the game in which they were leading 3-1.

Jackalopes player Dave Van Drunen suffered a broken nose and broken jaw in a third-period fight, requiring an overnight stay in a hospital, 18 screws and multiple metal plates to repair his face. Videos posted on YouTube following the game showed workers scraping a large pool of blood from the ice.

In Thursday afternoon's letter, the owners of the teams wrote: "It was unfortunate the way this event unfolded. Regretfully, the emotions became very elevated during our preseason contest and an outstanding player was injured. While we cannot change the past, we can only more forward and learn from this incident. From the front office, to the coaches, to the players, the game of hockey has always been a physical, emotional, and passionate sport. We are happy to announce that the money from the fines that were collected by the CHL from both organizations will be donated to the fight against breast cancer that the Eagles were supporting during that Saturday night game"

CHL officials said fines and sanctions, including suspensions, might be handed out for players and/or coaches involved.

Van Drunen was hit by Colorado's Brad MacMillan midway through the final period. Eagles defenseman Mario Joly, a former Odessa player, reportedly came off the bench and challenged several Jackalopes to a fight. Those incidents prompted Odessa head coach Paul Gillis to pull his players off the ice and forfeit the game.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Fans,

On the behalf of the Central Hockey League, both the Odessa Jackalopes and Colorado Eagles would like to say Thank You for attending last Saturday nights game at the BEC. It was unfortunate the way this event unfolded. Regretfully, the emotions became very elevated during our preseason contest and an outstanding player was injured. While we cannot change the past, we can only more forward and learn from this incident. From the front office, to the coaches, to the players, the game of hockey has always been a physical, emotional, and passionate sport. We are happy to announce that the money from the fines that were collected by the CHL from both organizations will be donated to the fight against breast cancer that the Eagles were supporting during that Saturday night game.

Odessa Jackalopes co-owner, Rick Gasser, was the one who made the decision for the Odessa players to leave the ice and forfeit the contest. Not head coach Paul Gillis. Rick and the Jackalopes organization apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused to the passionate fans of Northern Colorado. The Jackalopes want to thank the staff at the Budweiser Events Center for handling Saturday's events and getting Dave Van Drunen to the hospital carefully and quickly. The treatment he, and all of us, received by the staff at the Rocky Mountain Medical Center was first class. Dave is at home with his wife and children, he is in good spirits, and he is looking forward to returning to the ice this season. The Jackalopes would also like to thank the Eagles fans that took the time to send their well wishes to Dave, his family, and the Jackalopes organization.

"I want the Eagles and the Jackalopes to move forward and prepare for our seasons. We look forward to coming back to the BEC December 9th and 10th to showcase our hockey team in front of your sold out building. Please do not let the emotions of one night keep anyone away from our game also continue to support the Eagles and the Jackalopes this season. Thank you to the Eagles for their hospitality during training camp." -- Rick Gasser

The Eagles have worked hard since their inception to develop a culture of professional, entertaining, and winning hockey. The Eagles would like thank the Odessa Jackalopes for their understanding, and their work to move on from this situation to the start of the new season. For the players of every team, preseason games are a chance to make an impression and earn jobs playing professional hockey. Unfortunately on Saturday, the physicality and emotion of making those impressions took a turn that no one could have predicted. Once again the Colorado Eagles wish Dave Van Drunen a full recovery.

"Rick is the exact DNA of an owner that loves and protects his players just as we love and protect our Colorado Eagles. Rick and I have moved on with the utmost respect for each others organization just as our great fans would expect and deserve. We are looking forward to welcoming the Jackalopes back to Northern Colorado to continue the fun, competitive contests we've had played over the last few years." -- Martin Lind

After discussing this matter with the CHL and the Colorado Eagles, the Odessa Jackalopes have agreed to withdraw their request for any criminal charges to be placed against any Eagles' personnel.

Both the Jackalopes and the Eagles are ready to move forward from this event, and we invite the fans of the CHL to move forward with us. The 2010-11 season should be an exciting time for everyone with all the new changes that have occurred throughout the Central Hockey League. Good luck to everyone this season, and we hope that all the teams around the hockey world can learn from the mistakes that were made on Saturday night.

Sincerely,

Rick Gasser

Odessa Jackalopes

Martin Lind

Colorado Eagles

9News.com

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