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Arrest Mars Gulls Game

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A team photographer became the target of rage during Saturday’s hockey between the Gulls and Kalamazoo Wings.

Kalamazoo defenseman Enrico Ciccone was arrested on a battery charge after an incident in which Essy Ghavameddini, who has been shooting professional sports for 13 years and the Gulls for the past three seasons, was cut and received a deep bruise below his left eye that required stitches.

Ciccone had entered the penalty box--where Ghavameddini is stationed--and started his rampage by swinging.

The Gulls eventually won, 6-1, in front of a season-high 10,011 at the Sports Arena. Several club officials registered their disappointment that Ciccone’s actions took away from another strong offensive and defensive effort by the Gulls (12-0-1), who are on a four-game winning streak.

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“You look all the way down their roster and you can’t find a chink in their armor at all,” said Kalamazoo Coach Bob Hoffmeyer. “They have as much experience as any NHL club. They’re well-coached and well-disciplined. It’s almost to a point where it’s unfair to be playing in the same league with them.”

Saturday’s story unfolded long before the final buzzer. Ghavameddini pressed charges, and three officers, originally called to the Gulls’ locker room area to investigate Ghavameddini’s allegation, later found Ciccone at the Sports Arena Travelodge, where was arrested.

Officer Bob Womer said witnesses confirmed Ciccone “slugged the team photographer and apparently without provocation.”

Ciccone was unavailable for comment.

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Three fans sitting directly behind the penalty box said Ciccone simply vented his frustration on Ghavameddini.

“He was pretty upset,” said Frank Griswold of Laguna Niguel, a season-ticket holder for three years. “And he just started yelling at the camera man, who is always there, and then Ciccone gives him (an elbow).”

“The first thing he did when he walked into the penalty box,” said Amanda Burgess of San Diego, “he just started hitting the camera man.”

Burgess’ son, Jason, said Ciccone delivered the blows with his glove still on.

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“He (Ghavameddini) kept saying, ‘Hey, what are you doing, man?’ ” Jason Burgess said. “He hit him about three times, and all (Ghavameddini) could do was put his arms up and try to protect himself.”

Ghavameddini said he pressed charges “to teach them that in the future they can’t do this. I’m here to work. . . . I usually act very professionally and try to stay away because I know what’s going on.”

The three fans and Ghavameddini said no pictures were being taken when Ciccone began his tirade.

Ciccone received a gross misconduct penalty for his actions and was ejected immediately.

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Still fuming as he left the ice, he hurled his stick into the crowd, hitting a fan. Paul Bakken of San Diego was hit in the right forearm. Bakken, attending his first-ever Gulls game after winning tickets as a door prize at a company breakfast, had to have the arm bandaged. He was six rows from the plexiglass in the aisle seat two sections over from the tunnel.

“After I saw the door slam,” Bakken said, “I turned my focus to the ice again. Then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw it coming and I put my arm up. If I hadn’t put my arm up, it probably would have hit me in the face.”

Ciccone, 22, 6 feet 4 and 200 pounds, was second in penalty minutes last year in the IHL with 406. He was playing only his fourth game with Kalamazoo this year after recently being demoted by the Minnesota North Stars.

Ciccone’s tirade began only one minute 17 seconds into the game after he was issued two-minute penalties (high-sticking and slashing). It stemmed from an altercation with Dan Shank, who received two minors for charging and unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Shank and Ciccone went at it together twice in Friday’s game.

Late in the second period, an unidentified Kalamazoo player hit Gull right wing Robbie Nichols on the forehead with a stick. Nichols had to be helped from the ice by two teammates.

“That was an accident, though,” Gulls Coach Rick Dudley said. “It could have been called, the rule states you have to have control of your stick at all times, but it was just on the follow-through after he struck the puck.”

In all 76 penalty minutes were doled out, 43 to Kalamazoo and 33 to the Gulls, a surprisingly low total.

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The big losers in all the controversy were Nichols and Mitch Lamoureux, who scored two goals each. The violence overshadowed their efforts. Shank and Don McSween also scored for the Gulls.

Goalie Clint Malarchuk started for the first time at the Sports Arena and stopped 24 shots.


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