The Punch-Up in Piestany was the name of the infamous brawl between Canada and the USSR at the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championships in Piestany, Czechoslovakia. The fights got so bad that the lights in the entire area were turned off. After the melee, the game was called and both teams were disqualified from the tournament.
Chris Joseph played for Canada at the 1987 and 1988 World Junior Hockey Championships and joined Rick Ralph on the Rona Roundtable on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and told the story of what it was like to be on the ice.
“I was likely one of the first fights on the ice. I don’t remember seeing players jump over the boards; I was already involved with a player. If you watch the video you’ll see somebody, I think Theo Fleury ends up getting stuck, or he sticks somebody. Then there’s three people hovering around. Then one of the Russian players took a swing at me, we both went down, rolled around a couple of times, and I just ended up hitting him with lefts. We had our gloves on; we had our face-masks on so I don’t think I was doing any damage.
While that was going on the other four pairs had paired off and they were fighting. I’m not sure who jumped first, obviously we all thought it was the Russians that jumped first. I did talk to some Russian players later on and they said one of the players on the ice had a bad shoulder, and somebody jumped on the ice to protect him. As soon as our Canadian players saw one Russian jump, one of our Canadians jumped, then we all know it escalated really badly.
After I had rolled around with my guy, I had him down quite a bit. When I did get a chance to look up that’s when the benches just started clearing. As I looked up I thought, “uh oh, I’m on top, there’s ten people on the ice, my guy is down below” I assumed they were going to come after me first. I didn’t want ten angry Russians coming after me. So I actually let my guy go and then people started skating past me, around me. I went and started skating around, and actually skated right past Stephane Roy (Patrick Roy’s brother) who was getting two-on-oned. He was probably ten feet away from me and I didn’t even see him.
I ended up going down towards the goaltenders; we’ve all seen that comical goalie fight with Shawn Simpson where they’re swinging their purses at each other. So I went towards the goal, another Russian, I don’t know who it was, showed up. I put up my dukes, and nothing happened.
So I skated into the corner where Yvon Corriveau on our team was getting two-on-oned. There was a guy holding his arms back and another guy punching him. When I showed up, I grabbed the guy that was holding him. The other Russian guy took off. Then Yvon and I had a two-on-one on this guy. I was holding him and I told Yvon, “punch him, hit him”. I had him. Yvon looked at me, looked at the Russian, slunked his shoulders down and said “no” and he skated away. He was exhausted, everybody was exhausted. That’s about the time the lights went out and then it got sillier.”
To hear the rest of Chris’s story, listen to the full interview available at TSN1290.ca.