UPDATE: The AHL announced late Tuesday afternoon that Tom Sestio, Oliver Lauridsen, and Joel Rechlicz were suspended one game each for their actions in the incident described below.
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Phantoms were involved in quite the dustup on Saturday night in Hershey (pertinent part of the video begins at 2:18).
Shortly after a hard Joel Rechlicz check on Tom Sestito, Tyler Brown hit Rechlicz, igniting a line brawl with 3:30 remaining in the third that resulted in 120 penalty minutes, including seven misconducts.
Two Phantoms -- Sestito and Cullen Eddy -- were tossed from the game. The most serious penalty was the one given to Sestito for "fighting off the playing surface," as he exchanged punches with Rechlicz from the bench after Rechlicz skated over to confront him. Lauridsen got involved during that altercation.
Rechlicz, who tried to fight Sestito during pregame warmups Saturday, told The Patriot News after the game he was angry with Sestito for slashing goalie Dany Sabourin during warmups of the Outdoor Classic on Friday. Rechlicz didn't play in that game.
Rechlicz also told the newspaper that "He's throwing elbows at guys when I'm not in the lineup. When I am in the lineup, he's quiet as a mouse... That's what he does... He runs his mouth and doesn't back anything up. I wasn't too surprised or shocked about it."
Tuesday, I gave Sestito the chance to tell his side of the story.
On declining to fight Rechlicz:
"He wanted to fight, but a guy like that he plays maybe a minute a half a game. I'm not wasting my time with that guy. He can't play hockey so we keep him out on the ice and if he wants to do dumb things he can do them."
Sestito added that he had fought once before in warmups and knew a suspension would be the consequence.
On whether he slashed anyone at the Outdoor Classic:
"(Rechlicz) was saying that (in warmups). I don't know, he didn't really speak English when he was talking to me, he was too wired up. Maybe three Red Bulls before the game. I didn't slash anybody in the warmups. I don't know what he's talking about."
On the incident at the bench:
"I didn't think it was that bad. He came at the bench. He was swinging first. I'm not going to just sit there. I'm going to protect myself."
Phantoms coach Joe Paterson declined to comment on the matter pending the league's decision on suspensions.
On another note, Sestito explained what kept him out of the lineup for the two games preceding the Outdoor Classic:
"It wasn't a concussion or anything, it was just my vision. It was getting blurry all the time. They don't know what caused it. Might have been strain on my eyes because I wasn't wearing my contacts. Just needed a couple of days to make sure everything was all right."
-- Forward Tye McGinn practiced for the second straight day Tuesday. He's cleared to play and could return this weekend. He's missed the last three games.
-- Garrett Klotz skated toward the end of Tuesday's practice. Klotz, who has missed seven games with a lower-body injury, hasn't been cleared to return this weekend. He may play next weekend. Klotz, who last played Dec. 18, has missed 16 games due to injury this season.
-- Oskars Bartulis remains in Philadelphia, where he recently had surgery on an upper-body injury. There is no timetable for his return. Bartulis hasn't played since Nov. 30.