Just hours before needing to board a plane to San Jose in advance of Sundays AHL All-Star festivities, Kings prospect Brandt Clarke had a rather peculiar night at Toyota Arena on Saturday.
Midway through the second period of a game between the Ontario Reign and visiting Calgary Wranglers, the 20-year-old defenseman dropped the gloves with fellow 2021 first round draft pick Matthew Coronato.
As best we can tell, there was not a prior beef between the two players.
Making the entire situation slightly more awkward is the fact they will both be representing their respective clubs at the league’s All-Star Game.
After the game, Clarke shared the following comments about the situation:
“I don’t want to say it’s on my bucket list, but the time was right and I was feeling OK, so I thought I’d do it … It’s not a hot take to say I was the decisive loser there, but held my own and did fine. I’m no worse for wear. This might swell up a little bit tomorrow [ed note: referring to a growing shiner under his left eye], but no head issues or anything like that, no hand issues. Overall, I feel fine and got it out of the way. I wouldn’t say this is going to be a common occurrence. I think it was the right time and place. That guy was kind of running around and, like I said, I just think it was the right time and place to pull something like that off.”
Regarding them both being on the same All-Star team tomorrow, Clarke added: “Yeah, I was talking to him in the penalty box about that. He said, ‘See ya tomorrow.’ There’s no hard feelings, it’s just part of the game. So, it’s not going to be awkward or anything. I’m just going to be nice to him and he’s going to be nice to me. It’s gonna be fun.”
Clarke was also quick to point out that his parents will be meeting up with him in San Jose.
“It was an honor when I got the word that I was going,” he said. “It’s going to be a good family event, too. My brother’s in the event, so that’s that’s gonna be awesome. My parents are currently flying down. They watch every game, but this is the first one they missed. Maybe it’s a good thing my mom missed me getting punched in the face. I’m not too upset about that.”
Reign assistant coach Chris Hajt also had a few thoughts about what went down, as well.
“He’s such a competitive player,” Hajt remarked, when asked about Clarke’s first pro fight. “The other kid is too, so they were going at it and it was just a matter of time before they did drop the gloves. Both kind of wanted it so good on him — again, showing that fiery competitiveness. He hates losing, he loves winning. He loves playing the game and he’s an ultra competitor, so good for him on being aggressive. Like I’ve said, he’s a winner, wants to win, and will do anything it takes to do it.”
As for Clarke leaving for the All-Star Game, Hajt added a few more comments: “He’s such a skilled player … He deserves this. He’s been outstanding for us all year; and when [he’s been up] with the Kings, he played very well in those games too. Sky’s the limit for the kid and we’re thrilled that he’s getting to go and show everybody how good he is.”
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