Friday, January 8, 2010

Best Hockey Fight of 2009

January is a good month to reflect on events from the past year. A review of rated the December 31, 2009 bout between Rick Rypen and Cam Janssen the fight of the decade. In a crowded field, my favorite hockey fight of 2009 was on March 3, Aaron Downey vs Cam Janssen.

Both fighters show great technical skills in the chess match. The first few seconds of the video show that it started fairly, with both dropping their gloves at the same time. The camera zooms back late, but Downey had acquired a hold positioning him partially behind Janssen, which Janssen manages to escape. Both proficiently switch stances from southpaw to orthodox throughout the fight and show felicity punching with either hand.

Janssen tries to establish a hold from 0:16 in to avoid punching while off balance. Downey tries to take advantage by hitting him while he is grabbing, but Janssen dodges. Neither is able to win by spinning his opponent. Each grapples the other into near impotence from 0:25 to 0:40, letting go on occasion to release quick jabs but grabbing on again before his opponent can respond.

From matched stances, they take each other's punches on their backs until 0:47, when Downey successfully switches punching hands in a maneuver to take Janssen's helmet off. Janssen likewise switches hands and takes advantage with a few punches but his best hits come from his own successful switch at 0:54. Downey retreats into matching stances from which only glancing punches are possible, while Janssen takes the opportunity to remove the elbow pad that is hampering his right arm.

At 1:11 Janssen goes into a mirroring southpaw stance from which he can easily trade blows with Downey, who is in an orthodox stance. Once again, Downey takes a few punches while switching hands rather than trade more forceful punches from a mirrored position. From 1:17, they trade blows from the same stance until Janssen switches at 1:27. They continue to alternately switch stances until the end of the fight.

Janssen won the fight because he took better advantage of opportunities to punch while his opponent was switching hands than Downey did. That Downey felt compelled to switch from slugging it out with opposite hands to being in the same stance as Janssen implies respect for Janssen's punching ability.

Skill is more important than size in a fight.

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