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TAUNTING OF GOALIE LED TO BRAWL, POLICE SAY

The brawl outside a North Buffalo hockey rink that left six young people injured, one seriously, apparently had its roots in the taunting of the Riverside team's goalie by a group of fans during a youth hockey game Saturday night, sources indicated Monday.

After the Explorer Hockey League game, words were exchanged between the Riverside players and some of the fans, police said.

The Riverside players then walked out of the rink together, where they clashed with six or seven people, who were joined by another crew wielding baseball bats and pipes, the sources added. It is not clear which side was the aggressor.

The resulting battle left people swinging bats, pipes and hockey sticks wildly, with some of the combatants reportedly not even sure whom they were fighting. Authorities believe the melee pitted some fans, mostly from North Buffalo, against the Riverside players.

As many as 15 to 20 people may have been involved in the brawl.

That's the picture that has emerged from the Saturday night brawl outside the Lafayette Ice Rink on Tacoma Ave
nue, as Northwest District detectives continued interviewing witnesses and participants Monday in an attempt to piece together exactly what happened.

"We'll probably have more answers (today)," Detective Sgt. Daniel Derenda of the Northwest District said late Monday.

The most seriously injured person, Corey McCarthy, 18, of Crescent Avenue, was upgraded from critical to serious condition today in Erie County Medical Center late Monday with a head injury. McCarthy has been identified as a former Bennett High School student.

"He's improving," Derenda said. "It appears he's going to pull through."

Police are investigating reports that McCarthy was struck in the head with a hockey stick.

The brawl broke out at about 7 p.m. after a game between the Riverside and McKinley teams in the Explorer Hockey League.

The league is not sanctioned or funded by the Buffalo schools, and some teams in the league have players from more than one school. The Riverside team, for example, has players from Riverside Institute of Technology -- formerly, Riverside High School -- Grover Cleveland, Lafayette and da Vinci high schools.

"It's not a school-approved league, so we don't have the authority to step in and discipline players, discipline fans or discipline anyone," said William Jackson, chief of security for the Buffalo schools. "But we are interested in what happened because of the schools' names being used and because some of the kids involved are students."

Buffalo police reports list six people injured in the melee. It's not clear whether the various victims were combatants or innocent bystanders.

Besides McCarthy, the injured include:

Mark Czerniejewski, identified as a Riverside student and player. He was treated at a local hospital for facial lacerations.

James M. Hudson, 16, identified as a Buffalo student but not from Riverside or McKinley. After suffering a forehead laceration that required eight stitches to close at Sisters Hospital, he told police he was beaten by four Riverside players, one armed with a hockey stick.

Sam Catanzaro, 19; John Catanzaro, 16; and Sam Vacanti, 16. They all suffered lacerations after being struck by unknown attackers. John Catanzaro reportedly attends McKinley.

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