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Charges Filed in High-Sticking

May 8, 1998

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ A University of Michigan hockey player who helped lead his team to a national title last month will stand trial on a charge he hit an opponent in the face with a stick during a recreational game.

Chris Fox, 21, a senior, is charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm for allegedly hitting Robert Thomas during a non-checking playoff game at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Township.

The charge carries a maximum 10 year prison term.

On Thursday, Fox and Thomas gave conflicting accounts of what happened during the June 15 game.

Although he didn’t see the hit coming, Thomas said he saw the player’s face once he was on his back, spitting blood and teeth from his mouth.

``I knew it was him. When I fell, he was standing over me,″ Thomas said

Fox was on a breakaway when he lost the puck to an opposing player whose stick bounced from the ice and struck Fox in the cheek. Thomas said Fox was angry that he had been hit and no penalty was called.

Fox needed 12 stitches to close a gash on his right cheek, his doctor testified. Thomas said he had two teeth replaced and was laid up for four days after the encounter.

Thomas said he decided to file a police report because of the extent of his injuries and Fox’s attitude.

Referee Richard Perry testified he saw Fox use his hockey stick to pull Thomas to the ground.

Defense attorney Steven Fishman told Judge Edward Avadenka that a hockey stick is part of playing a hockey game and players weren’t going to play without one.

But the judge didn’t agree.

``They weren’t playing hockey. The play had been whistled dead,″ Avadenka said before ordering Fox to stand trial.

The Fox family had no comment after court, but Fishman said his client would not consider a plea, if one was offered, because he is innocent.

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