A film director planning a sequel of "Rollerball" would have found a ready-made cast.
The rookie teams of the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, job hunters all, fought to a 5-5 tie yesterday in what linesman Steve Horney called a matter of survival. Fellow linesman Rich Zerbe called it war. Whatever, there were nine fights and 37 penalties.
"In Sweden we only have nine fights the whole season," commented noncombatant Capital Leif Svensson, who, like countryman Rolf Edberg, is nursing pulled groin muscles. "This isn't hockey. At home there is skating and stickhandling, not stick swinging."
At one point in the second period, six Flyers huddled together in a penalty box built for three. Of five sentenced Capitals, two were paroled to the dressing room. Between periods, Hershey trainer Bob Trenn taped two signs to the glass behind the Washington penalty box: "Sold Out" and "No Vacancy."
After Washington's fourth goal, from force of habit, the announcer said, "Washington penalty . . ."
The Capitals were assessed 21 penalties for 77 minutes, compared to the Flyers' 16 for 59, and Hershey Coach Chuck Hamilton, who guided the young Capitals that will soon form much of his team, said, "We can't play five against four forever."
Still, the Capitals, playing their fifth game in five days and augmented by a few veterans, twice rallied in the final period to gain the tie with what was basically Maine's American League champions. Mark Lofthouse and Brent Tremlay wiped out a 4-2 Flyer margin and, after a Philadelphia power-play score, Nelson Burton netted the equalizer with 3:04 remaining.
General Manager Max McNab was not pleased with what he called silly fights because they deprived him of the opportunity to see some players who spent considerable time in the penalty box. But he said, "The fights are hard to control. The guys are keyed up and both teams are big, with good courage."
"In some of those fights, guys not even involved would just look at each other and go," said referee Don Foreman, who played for the old Washington Presidents in 1958-59. "I told them, 'If you want to stay in the penalty box, go ahead, but you can't show them what you can do it you're not playing.'"
"Everybody's trying for jobs and some of them don't have any tools, so this is all they can do," said Zerbe, limping after the long afternoon of untangling wrestlers. "I lost at least five pounds today. I'll be in shape for camp."
Foreman, Zerbe and Horney are American League officials and their training camp will be conducted this weekend in Springfield, Mass.
Among Washington's brawlers were Gary Rissling and Tremblay, twice each; Paul Mulvey, Gord lane, Burton, Lofthouse and Mark Toffolo, who was ejected for leaving the penalty box to prolong a six-man brawl.
Mulvey goaded the Flyers' reluctant Mike Simurda into dropping gloves, then took a wicked shot from Simurda, who wound up on top in the most explosive bout of a card dominated by wrestling holds.
McNab, trying to screen out the threatrics, had the following comments on young Capitals he likes, after this finale of the rookie squad schedule:
Mulvey: "His hockey sense is very good. Making allowances for five games in five days, he tried to make the right move all the time."
Tremblay: "Aside from the silly fights, he moved the puck pretty well and got a good goal."
Burton: "He has more coordination than last year."
Glen Currie: "We're taking him on the exhibition trip. We want to see him in better company."
Lou Franceschetti: "Maybe he's not ready for Hershey, But he's a pretty good prospect.
Greg Carroll: "He's starting to skate a little better. He was behind in conditioning when he reported."
Lofthouse: "He's working all the time out there. We're going to give him a good look."
McNab said he would take three goalies (Jim Bedard, Bernie Wolfe and Rollie Boutin), eight defensemen and five forward lines on the four-game exhibition swing that begins tomorrow night in London, Ontario, against the Pittsburgh Penguins.