Steve Kampfer Only Strains Neck in On-Ice Assault

By · Monday, January 26, 2009 · 6:20 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Michigan beat Michigan State two more times this past weekend to complete a series sweep of the Spartans. On Friday, Michigan took care of business with a 6-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena. On Saturday at Yost, Michigan won for the fifth time this season against MSU with a closer 5-3 win.

In the third period of Saturday’s game, Michigan State started to let out its frustration by getting dirty. It’s no surprise that this happened, as the end of many hockey games produce chippy play when one team is being dominated (despite the closeness of the game, it was very one-sided). To make matters worse, the referees had absolutely no control over the players of either team thanks to their utter cluelessness and incompetence. The poor officiating made many dirty plays possible and led to a finish that was way beyond chippy.

With less than a minute to go in the game, Michigan’s Steve Kampfer delivered a clean hit at mid-ice on MSU’s Corey Tropp. Tropp’s teammate, Andrew Conboy, who is nothing more than a thug, came up from behind, punched, and then clotheslined Kampfer into the boards seconds later. Tropp then quickly skated over and slashed Kampfer twice near the head/neck area while he was already on the ice. Kampfer laid motionless for several minutes following what is best described as an assault before being helped off the ice by teammates. Take a look:

As soon as the incident happened, the entire student section became enraged. A “f*** you State” chant broke out, followed by the yelling of “sore losers” over and over again. The first chant doesn’t even sum up the rage that filled Yost after Conboy and Tropp’s disgusting actions. Once Kampfer was helped up and everyone in the student section realized it was him that rage was taken to another level.

Steve Kampfer, as you may remember, was the victim of an assault by former wrestler and walk-on football player Mike Milano back in October. Kampfer suffered a cracked skull and T1 vertebra, leading most to think he would be out for quite some time. Surprisingly, though, Kampfer made an amazing recovery and returned at the Great Lakes Invitational at the end of December. Not only was it great to see him return since he was healthy, but also because he has played so well. Kampfer is an important part of this team, and the fact that he suffered a serious head and neck injury just months ago made me fear the worst when I saw him being taken off the ice.

Thankfully, news came out Sunday evening that Kampfer is not seriously injured and may even return to the ice this weekend against Notre Dame.

“I have a strained neck right now,” Kampfer said in a phone interview with the Free Press on Sunday. “I had no relapse of what happened earlier. Hopefully, I’ll be back this weekend.”

The fact that he is not seriously injured is simply amazing when you consider that he was taken out from behind and slashed twice in the head. What’s almost as amazing is how restrained Kampfer seemed to be when he talked with the Free Press.

“It’s not like people didn’t know I had that injury,” Kampfer said. “If that was his true intention, that’s uncalled for. I don’t know what (Tropp) was thinking at the time. Obviously, I’m disappointed.”

Kampfer watched the replays Sunday.

“It’s something that shouldn’t have happened,” Kampfer said. “It just shows the lack of sense that people have. I don’t think two-handing someone over the neck when someone has had previous injuries is right or necessary.”

Asked if he thought the players should miss more time, Kampfer said: “That’s not up for me to decide. I’m biased because it happened to me. It’s up to (CCHA commissioner) Tom Anastos and the refs to decide.”

Although it is great that Kampfer is alright, that doesn’t excuse the actions of Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp by any means. Tropp will be suspended at least three games since he received a double-game disqualification (first DQ is one game, second DQ is two games), and MSU coach Rick Comley said that Conboy probably won’t travel with MSU for their series this weekend against Lake Superior State. It is unclear whether Comley will add anything more to Tropp’s suspension or how long Conboy will be gone. It is also unclear what the CCHA or possibly even the NCAA will do to the two MSU players. Personally, I think anything short of a suspension for the remainder of the season isn’t enough.

It probably sounds like I am overreacting, but trust me, I’m not. Injuries and cheap shots will happen in the game of hockey; that is a given. However, when a player sucker punches someone and clotheslines him from behind into the boards that is crossing the line. When a player slashes someone that is already down twice near the head that is crossing the line. Was Tropp trying to retaliate for the clean hit that Kampfer laid on him? Yes. But you can cleanly retaliate for a hit like that. Slashing your stick at someone’s head is displaying the intent to injure that player, as is sucker-punching him from behind. Both are not only despicable acts, but acts that should result in extended suspensions.

If Rick Comley wants to save any face this season (he is coaching the last-place team in the CCHA, after all), he can do it by keeping these two goons off the ice for the rest of the season at a minimum. Conboy probably deserves to be kicked off the team based on his track record, though Tropp deserves to be booted just as much for slashing at Kampfer’s head multiple times. I will credit Comley for apologizing to Red Berenson after the game and calling the actions “cheap and uncalled for,” but he shouldn’t have had Conboy out on the ice anyways given his track record. You could tell that something bad was going to happen based on other incidents earlier in the period, and unfortunately something very, very bad happened.

This saga didn’t end with the assault on Kampfer, as things happened after the game as well. During the post-game handshake, which probably was unnecessary (I know it’s part of the game, but how can you shake those assholes’ hands?), Michigan’s Tim Miller had to be escorted off the ice by referees after he said something to an MSU player or supposedly Comley. One other Michigan player immediately stopped shaking hands after Miller left the line, as I’m sure he wanted to get as far away from the MSU players as possible.

Just when you thought the drama was over, it came out after the game that a person got into the Michigan State locker room and got his hands on Tropp. Here is the Michigan Daily’s account of what happened:

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said that the incident followed an ejection from the game. The player ejected from yesterday’s game — which, according to the box score, was Spartan forward Corey Tropp — was in the visitor’s locker room and a 48-year-old man from Jackson, Mich. went in and confronted him.

“We had a parent come crashing into the locker room and fight my player,” Michigan State coach Rick Comley told the State News.

According to multiple sources close to the situation, the man was taken to the Yost offices behind the skate rental booth for DPS questioning.

“I heard him tell the officer that he did grab Tropp by the jersey, and they were also holding each other and yelling at each other,” a person in the room during the questioning, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the matter, said. […]

Brown said that nobody was hurt or injured in the locker room incident.

After the confrontation, DPS met with all the parties involved and read the man a trespass warning. They then escorted him out of the building.

Brown said that DPS will finish the investigation and the case will then go to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor will decide whether or not to file assault charges.

The person that went into MSU’s locker room is rumored to be Steve Kampfer’s father, which the Daily’s report seems to back up considering Kampfer is from Jackson, Michigan, just like the man involved in the incident. Although I don’t condone any fan or parent going into the opposing team’s locker room to go after a player, can you really blame him? If you saw your son get attacked like that on the ice and lay motionless as a result, how enraged would you be? Then take into account Kampfer’s history with head and neck injuries and I imagine that level of rage and anger would be off the charts. Hell, many students, myself included, felt like going after the MSU players, so you can understand where a parent was coming from.

What I find comical is the last line of the quote above that states there will be a decision on whether or not assault charges will be filed. If anyone should be hit with assault charges, it should be Tropp for using his stick as a weapon. Obviously some things are part of hockey, but slashing a person’s head is not. If the person that went into the MSU locker room did that to Tropp, he would be in jail. So unless Tropp got the crap beat out of him, talk of assault charges for the person that entered the locker room is absolutely ridiculous.

All I can say is that I’m glad Kampfer is alright, but again, the two MSU players need to be severely punished for their actions. They are lucky that something much worse didn’t happen to Kampfer and that they aren’t the ones being mentioned in the same sentence as assault charges.

Some other thoughts on the game:

  • Although I understand that chanting “f*** you State” is inappropriate, you had to be at Yost to understand how angry the student section was following the hit on Kampfer. While the chant was going on, an usher actually ejected the entire row in front of me for saying the f-word, which I find to be quite ridiculous. I get that the usher was just doing his job, but when thousands of people are chanting the same thing, how can you eject an entire row of people? I also get that the usher was trying to make an example out of people, but there was less than a minute left in the game. Besides, nothing has deterred students from chanting obscene things at hockey games before, so does he really think ejecting a row of people will change anything?
  • As mentioned earlier, the referees had no control over Saturday’s game. One example of this was when Travis Turnbull was pinned in the net after a play. MSU’s Brandon Gentile was on top of him and seemed to be throwing punches. Of course, the refs thought it was smart to hand out matching penalties, which only upset Turnbull even more considering he was the one getting roughed.

    Another example was when Andrew Conboy and Michigan’s Tristen Llewellyn were up against the boards far away from the play. Conboy punched Llewellyn in the face twice right in front of a referee. No penalty was called until Llewellyn boarded Conboy shortly after. Conboy got an unsportsmanlike penalty, sending him to the box along with Llewellyn, which just pissed off everybody. Conboy should have been off the ice after he threw a couple punches right in front of the referee.

  • I also mentioned earlier that the score didn’t really reflect how one-sided Saturday’s game was. Proof of that is in the shots on goal statistic: Michigan – 51; Michigan State – 21.
  • For more on the Kampfer incident, check out MVictors, which posted a video and stills of the attack, and The Blog That Yost Built and MGoBlog for their takes on the assault.

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