There are plenty of ways a hockey fight can start, and a lot of times it's more instinctual than about what someone says. Sometimes it's a nod or a grin, a slash or a shoulder shoving someone into the boards. Other times it's not how you hit, but whom you hit.
In other words, there's a science to starting the sweet science on skates.
``I kind of just hit something and then they hit me back and it starts,'' forward Stephon Thorne said. ``It's either a yes or no kind of thing.''
Usually, so far this season, it's been a yes thing quite a bit, but Thorne is a rookie so he's still learning the trade.
``A lot of times just you are looking to get some momentum and you don't say a lot, you just say, `Let's go!' '' defenseman Dustin Molle said. ``I don't talk a lot. My dad always said when I was younger that the guys you are most scared of are the ones who don't talk. I just keep my mouth shut and like to talk with my fists to stick up for teammates.''
And what does Molle's little brother Bryant say?
``I just say, `Quit picking on me, bigger brother, and let's go,' '' he said, laughing.
Actually, he doesn't say a whole lot on or off the ice, either.
``It's really situational,'' said veteran defenseman Brent Henley, who has more experience with this situation than all the current Komets combined. ``Sometimes it's just a nod. If it's another guy of the same mentality of ilk, sometimes it just takes a look. Sometimes nothing is said, and it's just heat of the moment. For the most part, we know when it's time. It's a nod or `Hey, let's go.' ''
Sometimes nothing needs to be said because fighters owe each other the courtesy of a bout. When Henley came back to the Komets on Oct. 29 and Fort Wayne fell behind 2-0, he fought Evansville's Mike Sgroi. A week later, when the Komets were the first opponent in Evansville's new building, even though Henley's hand was killing him, he fought Sgroi again early in the game.
``Sometimes you owe a guy because he said yes to you at your place,'' Henley said. ``He fought me when they were up and he knew it was my first game back and I wanted to go. He didn't owe it to me, and he did it, so I owed it to him back. It was a mutual respect thing. It's part of the job for the two of us.''
Sometimes players just start throwing punches and don't wait to see if their opponent is going to respond. By then, it might be too late.
``Me, I usually just go after it because I don't like squaring off,'' said 5-foot-8 center Brett Smith. ``I've squared off a couple of times, but it's normally when something happens to a teammate or something that happens to you that you don't like and it just happens. I don't think I'm very intimidating, so I try to stay away from the fighting.''
Maybe the Komet who is the best at talking is also the most atypical at finding ways to start fights. Kaleigh Schrock never backs down from anyone with his lip or his fists.
``Usually it's just by running one of their skill guys or if you chirp their coach in front of the bench then somebody knows they are going to have to go with you,'' said Schrock, also known as Schrocky Balboa. ``If you are looking for it out there and asking guys to go, you're normally not going to get one. You have to find more creative ways to do it, slash their skill guy, bump their goalie or tell their coach to send his toughest guy.''
Schrock also has a few pat lines to try -- and that get tried on him.
``When I was a rookie, guys would say `Who are you?' or `I'm not going to fight a DIII guy.' '' Schrock said. ``Another favorite was `Where's Neumann?' (His alma mater) Those are all good. Now I don't get that as much.''
Usually that's because he's talking so much, no opponent can manage to get a word in to interrupt Schrock's flow.
``I try to be kind of funny at times,'' he said. ``I don't try to scare guys at all because I'm not scary. Some of the bigger guys I'll try to chirp so they get mad and take a dumb penalty.''
* Former Quad City tough guy Jason Goulet: ``I don't know what I want more, $1,000 or your nose full of nickels.''
* Quad City's Jason Kostadine who was stretching near the red line: ``Have you ever seen a cheetah stretch before eating its prey?''
* Maybe his best lines have involved Sgroi: ``I'll just let them know that I'm not scared to fight him. One time he said, `You better not be running around out here or I'll take care of you.' I asked him if he had ever cornered a badger before. He thought that was funny.''
Another time Sgroi asked Schrock, who lived at home at the time, if ``Mommy and Daddy going to fix you pancakes for breakfast tomorrow?'' Schrock came back with, ``Listen, I've been spanked by my mom and I've seen you fight, and I think getting spanked by her will hurt a lot more than fighting you.''
But maybe the best thing is not to talk at all and just drop the gloves sometimes and see what happens.
``Usually I don't think by talking to a guy that I'm going to get him to fight,'' Schrock said. ``If another guy is out there and all he's doing is running his mouth, he's probably not worth fighting anyways. The guys that fight know when they should go and when they shouldn't. They don't have to talk about it.''