We all knew it was coming.
Late in the opening frame, viewers of Wednesday night’s hotly-anticipated Battle of Alberta were treated to the moment many were waiting for, as Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian finally dropped the gloves. It was the next chapter of their (multiple) run-ins weeks earlier.
Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk drop the gloves off the faceoff pic.twitter.com/XXnKZO7U3j— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 30, 2020
Tkachuk, uh, didn’t exactly walk away with a commanding victory.
Following the events of Jan. 11 — during which Tkachuk and Kassian set the hockey world ablaze with a dramatic physical showdown — this was more or less inevitable. Hockey’s code proclaims it. You know the drill.
After the game, Kassian and Tkachuk discussed the moments that led up to their score-settling scrap, with the Oilers forward praising his nemesis for answering the call.
Kassian told Tkachuk right before they fought “Thanks kid, I appreciate you doing this.” Showed a healthy amount of respect for him in his media avail. Said Tkachuk wanted to go right away but Kassian wanted him to think about it for a bit first. Game within the game he said— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) January 30, 2020
For Tkachuk, this wasn’t about paying the piper — it was about standing his ground.
Tkachuk: “It had nothing to do with the hits or anything like that – I just didn’t like getting pummelled at home like I did. A lot of people didn’t want me to do it, but I wanted to. It was just kind of a way for me to stick up for myself."— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) January 30, 2020
Tkachuk: "I wanted to do it earlier, but (Kassian) said, 'no, it was too early or something. After the (RNH) fight he wanted in on the action and I said, 'sure I’ll do it.' I just wanted to stick up for myself. Every time someone said 'don’t do it,' made me want to do it more."— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) January 30, 2020
Funnily enough, though, Tkachuk-Kassian wasn’t the first rumble to take place in the game. Minutes earlier, Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (of all people) chose to enter the ring and throw haymakers at each other. If you had those two on your fight card before the opening faceoff, you’re either a time traveller or simply picked names at random.
Regardless, the bout wasn’t a bad undercard ahead of the main event.
While the game remained chippy the rest of the way, things definitely settled down in comparison and some hockey was played. Calgary went on to win the game 4-3 in a shootout.
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