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Michigan Tech hockey coach sorry for postgame fracas

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

First-year Michigan Tech hockey coach Joe Shawhan has apologized for his role in a heated physical altercation following Saturday night’s game.

After Michigan Tech beat Arizona State, 5-3, at MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton, a skirmish erupted on the ice — at which point, Shawhan began walking over to Arizona State’s coaches. Then, words were exchanged, and pushing and shoving ensued, according to a video of the incident posted on Twitter.

Joe Shawhan

It was the end of an intense night, with a game that featured 24 penalties, including six after time had expired.

“What happened after Saturday night’s hockey game is something I’m not proud of as head coach of this historic program,” Shawhan said in a statement released by the school Monday. “I’m sorry for my involvement and know that it is not acceptable for Michigan Tech or the WCHA.

“Situations like that should never happen, especially with all the young faces in the arena who look up to our team and dream of being Huskies some day. We pride ourselves in having one of the best game-day environments in all of college hockey and incidents like that should not be memories for our great fans.

“My team prides itself on sportsmanship win or lose. I thought our players did a great job trying to deescalate the situation, and I’m proud of them for that. They know how important it is to be leaders in this community.”

Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret said the school isn't considering discipline, calling the matter "behind us."

"Coach Shawhan released a statement today and we appreciate his comments," Sanregret said. "Like Coach Shawhan said, our team prides itself on sportsmanship win or lose, and our players did a great job of keeping the situation minimized.

"We have been in communication with the WCHA throughout and appreciate their professionalism in investigating. This matter is now behind us."

Immediately following the game, Shawhan said the incident looked worse than it actually was.

But Arizona State head coach Greg Powers reportedly called Shawhan’s actions “bush league.”

Michigan Tech is 16-14-5 after the weekend split against Arizona State. It closes the regular season this weekend against Northern Michigan, before opening WCHA tournament play March 2.

Shawhan took over as head coach of the program last May, after Mel Pearson was hired as head coach at Michigan. Michigan Tech is the defending WCHA tournament champion. A Sault Ste. Marie native, Shawhan has a long coaching history, including stops at Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State, the latter where he was a goaltender during his playing days.