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Teen Who Convulsed After Hitting Head on Ice Defends Hockey Fighting

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USA TODAY
November 8, 2013 Friday
FINAL EDITION
SPORTS; Pg. 12C
678 words
Teen still favors fighting;
Chanter convulsed after head hit ice
Kevin Allen, @ByKevinAllen, USA TODAY Sports

The horrifying video of teenager Dylan Chanter convulsing after hitting his head on the ice during a fight in a United States Hockey League game last month has become video evidence for those who want fighting eliminated from the sport.

But Chanter is not a willing symbol for that point of view.

"Fighting needs to be part of the game," Chanter told USA TODAY Sports. "I'm not going to approach the game any differently. I'm not going to be scared out there. That's just the way it was that night."

He said he expected to fight again, offering that what happened to him was just bad luck.

"I don't know how soon," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I'm not going to go out there looking for a fight. ... (But) if the opportunity presents itself and tempers flare, it will happen."

Chanter, 18, expects to be back in the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints' lineup tonight against the Muskegon (Mich.) Lumberjacks, his first action since video of his seizure went viral Oct. 12.

He was fighting Cedar Rapids (Iowa) RoughRiders forward Corey Petrash when his helmet came off and he slipped to the ice and struck his head.

"The question I had for the neurologist is why (did I convulse)," Chanter said. "He said it was just bad luck apparently. What happens is people act different ways. One guy could have not even been knocked out. But in my case, it resulted in a seizure. It didn't look too good, but I'm back now. And that's what matters. It was a bad break."

But the event was traumatic enough that USHL Commissioner Skip Prince said he was in the midst of a comprehensive review of whether the league needed to change its approach on fighting.

"The first thing we did was just to look at the incident," Prince said. "We wanted to see how the fight started, what the officials did, whether it could have been prevented, whether there was premeditation. ...

"We also had an equipment issue we wanted to address. The helmet came off, and that wasn't supposed to happen. And we looked at the medical side of it, the preparation and the actual care, and we have had all of our teams do a thorough review of all of our procedures."

The league is looking at whether the fighting penalties are strong enough. It already has rules that allow suspensions for players with multiple fights.

Fighting is down in the USHL, with about one fight in every 21/2 games.

"Fighting is already illegal," USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said. "The question becomes how severely do you penalize it, and I think there is a lot of evidence built over time, especially over the last couple of years, that maybe it ought to be penalized more severely than it has before. As far as the American hockey audience is concerned, you don't need it to sell the game."

Ogrean said he expected to see a change in the rules.

"But it's too early to know to what degree," he said.

Chanter, a Canadian, said his life hadn't changed because of the fight, other than adding more than 400 Twitter followers. "That's pretty cool," he said.

He said he had four fights in the British Columbia Hockey League over two seasons before joining the USHL. Chanter says he initiated the fight against Petrash.

"I asked the guy to go, and it resulted in a fight," he said. "But I'm not a guy that typically relied on fighting. But I have size (6-3, 213), so I'm not going to shy away from it. But it is not a huge part of my game. I'm rugged and physical, and I expect it to happen."

Chanter has been practicing for a week and a half in preparation for his return to competition. Earlier in the week, he fell in practice and banged his head. "Nothing happened," Chanter said. "From that point, I felt ready to play."

Chanter has watched the video of his famous fight and didn't think it looked as bad as he had heard it would. The game was not completed that night.

"It was weird watching it, because it was me," Chanter said. "I know that some people don't think fighting should be part of the game. If it gets taken out, we will have to see what happens. But right now it's part of the game. I will play as if it is part of the game."

November 8, 2013

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