Oshawa Drive coach Peter James is well-known as a mild-mannered man. He never yells at referees or makes theatrical displays of displeasure when a call or a game doesn’t go his way. He has never been ejected from a game. His idea of a colorful post-game quote is “It was a pretty tough one out there, but we’re looking past it and we’re focused on tomorrow.”
As Drive C Pat Collistone puts it, “Coach James is the most even-keel guy I’ve ever met. Nothing shakes him. If you set his tie on fire, he’d just say, ‘Huh, my tie’s on fire. I oughta do something about that,’ and then go find some water and put it out. He’s got milk running through his veins.”
So when a skirmish broke out between the Drive and the Virginia Rhinos during Wednesday’s game, the last thing anyone expected was for James to get involved. But when Virginia D Roscoe “Ruckus” Corbetta began throwing punches at the Oshawa bench, James took matters into his own hands, grabbing Corbetta and flinging him back onto the ice.
“It was awesome, like a WWE move almost,” said Collistone. “I think Coach is my new hero.”
The incident occurred in the third period of the game, when Corbetta laid a hard check on Collistone that sent him tumbling into the boards. The Drive felt that the hit was dirty, and D Colt Mayhem quickly skated over to Corbetta and challenged him to a fight. It was the second tilt of the day between the two heavy hitters, and it got ugly in a hurry. The skirmish quickly spread, as players from both teams began shoving and tussling as a knot began to form in front of the drive’s bench.
As the donnybrook continued, Corbetta and Mayhem wound up moving close to the Oshawa bench. LW Troy Blackwood, who was sitting on that end, took the opportunity to squirt a water bottle at Corbetta. The angry Rhinos blueliner whirled around, fired a couple of wild haymakers, and tried to climb onto the bench to scuffle with Collistone and others. His advance, however was stopped cold by James. The Oshawa coach grabbed Corbetta by the jersey and shoved him down onto the ice. Fortunately, the officials were able to calm things down before the got worse. Mayhem, Corbetta, and Collistone were all ejected. James was not.
After the game, the coach explained that his actions were a reflex to defend his players. “The situation started to spiral a bit when Stoner squirted water on the guy, and then he came at our bench,” said James. “I don’t take kindly to someone coming after my guys, and especially not coming on our bench to do it. So I put a stop to it.”
Other coaches might have been reluctant to confront an angry opponent, but the 6’5” James said he didn’t hesitate. “I’m a pretty big guy, so I’m not worried about getting hurt,” the coach said. “My first priority is keeping it from getting out of hand.”
After the game, a 6-4 Oshawa win, the Drive thumped their sticks on the locker-room floor in salute of their coach. “If I ever get caught down a dark alley, I hope I have Coach James with me,” said Collistone. “Him and Colt could bust some guys up.”