Cops: Chicago Ridge chief, coach scuffle at hockey game
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com October 19, 2012 10:26PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:38AM
A “guns and hoses” charity tournament held last month at the Southwest Ball Hockey Arena in Worth Township promised friendly competition and camaraderie for a good cause.
Instead, the championship game ended in chaos when Robert Pyznarski — the Chicago Ridge police chief and president of the arena’s youth hockey league — got into a scuffle with the head coach of one of the teams involved in the final, Alsip police said.
No one was charged. But the league’s former vice president and coach, who claims Pyznarski choked him, demanded Friday that Pyznarski step down from his post as league president.
“I was very stunned this happened,” said Ronald Gapski, of Oak Lawn.
Gapski has been with the league for three years. He first coached, then was a vice president until Pyznarski booted him off the league’s board this year.
Gapski was picked to coach a team called Dump and Change, made up of league coaches, that advanced to the Sept. 30 charity tournament’s championship against the Chicago Ridge Police Department’s team.
Other local fire and police departments fielded teams for the competition, which benefited a military charity.
Gapski called Alsip police after the skirmish broke out a little before 4 p.m., according to police. He told authorities the scuffle began when two opposing players began arguing in the arena. Gapski said Friday that one of the two men fighting was Pyznarski’s son, who played for the Chicago Ridge squad but is not a police officer.
Both men returned to their benches, but Pyznarski, a spectator, began yelling at one of Gapski’s players, who was on the bench, Gapski told police. Pyznarski approached the bench, and Gapski told police that when he held out his hands to stop Pyznarski, Pyznarski shoved him and grabbed his neck.
Alsip police said Pyznarski claimed he has a heated relationship with Gapski and previously had him removed from the Southwest Ball Hockey Arena league’s board. He said he was talking with a player on Gapski’s bench when Gapski “charged at him and shoved him.”
Pyznarski told police that he was only defending himself when he shoved Gapski back, but he denied placing his hands around Gapski’s neck.
Police said a witness said the fight caused both benches to clear and the game to end.
Gapski refused to press charges against Pyznarski and the two men shook hands, according to police.
On Friday, Gapski said he didn’t press charges because he didn’t want Pyznarski to be handcuffed in front of the crowd. He also demanded Pyznarski’s resignation as league president.
“He put himself in a position where something bad could have happened,” Gapski said.
Mike Feliz, a league referee who played for Dump and Change during the game, said Friday that Pyznarski’s attitude was “poor.”
“The bottom line is that he was around kids, this is a charity event, and this is the way he’s going to display his behavior?” Feliz said. “He’s going to go off screaming, swearing, attacking people and not realizing ‘I have 150 to 200 people watching me?’ ”
Those involved in the scuffle apparently violated the arena’s rules, which are posted on its website. The rules forbid any physical or verbal abuse of any coaches, assistant coaches, players, referees and fans. Suspension and expulsion are listed as possible punishments.
Pyznarski, whose father founded the league, did not respond to multiple messages left Friday.
It’s not the first time he has faced controversy in the youth league. In 1996, the Sun-Times reported that Pyznarski misrepresented ages of players so they could compete against younger children in a tournament.
Southwest Ball Hockey Arena vice president Brian Schneider said the incident is concerning because it puts the arena “in a negative light.” He declined further comment.