RI Hockey Legacy

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Fisticuffs in Stockholm

The United States National Team participated in the 1949 World Hockey Championships in Stockholm, Sweden with two Rhode Islanders; forward Gerry Kilmartin (LaSalle) and defensemen Bill Thayer (Warwick).  After earning a bronze medal, losing only to Canada and Switzerland, the team continued to tour Europe.  Kilmartin and his fellow Yanks found themselves in a fist-swinging affair in Sweden.  The US beat a combined Stockholm team 6-2 but Kilmartin became involved in a slugging match with Aake Engquist of the Swedish club.  Two days later against Soedertaelje Sporting Club, they got into another melee that included spectators.  Chief agitator Kilmartin started the fight taking off his gloves to maul Swedish forward Rolf Erickson.  While sitting in the "cooler" after being penalized for going after another Swedish player, American John Kelley was attacked by a spectator who moved down from the grandstand.  Several teammates went to his rescue and several spectators went to the aid of the Swede.  Police and stadium commissioners  rushed to the penalty box and ended the extra-curricular activities.  The Swedes sent a telegram to AHA requesting that "measures" be taken against the team.  A third fisticuff occurred during a two-game series later in March.  This time Bill Thayer and Sweden's Rune Johansson went after each other and the fight developed into a free-for-all.  The headline of the day was "American Hockey Players Scandal in Sweden".  The Americans won the game 2-0 and captured weekend series four goals to three.  The US would continue besting Canada 3-2 in France winning the Jean Potin cup, competed for by the US, Canada and the Paris Racing Club of Paris.  The AHA team finished the tour 32-11-3 with Kilmartin compiling  75 points, good for third on the team.