I'm looking for the board's thoughs on the appropriate response to harrasment when wearing Michigan gear.
I play in a non-checking men's league hockey in Columbus, Ohio and about a month ago at the UM hockey garage sale, I got Michigan helmet, gloves, pants, and socks. So I stick out like a sore thumb, but I love Michigan hockey and it's fun to wear my favorite team's gear. Obviously, I expect to take a lot of comments and a little bit of extra physical play from opposing team members.
I've played in 3 or 4 games with the M gear and people have made stupid comments and played a little rough, but that's expected and I really don't mind it. I get that I'm wearing Michigan gear in Columbus. But last night the other team totally took it to another level. They were new to our league and frankly just not that good at hockey, so we were winning like 10-1 at the end of the 2nd period. Keep in mind that I play defense and was not running up the score. Well, someone was hooking me and I just pinched their arm under my arm and passed the puck, in our defensive zone, to another teammate. No penalty was called on either of us. When the play stopped later on, some guy cross checks me in the back complaining that I'm playing dirty. We exchange a few choice words and continue on. But then in the next period I'm battling for the puck in the corner with another guy, and we're fighting for body position as per usual, and ultimately I get control of the puck and pass it off. But then, the dude goes off an punches me right in the mask and starts jawing about how I "checked" him. Ref calls a penalty on the guy and we jaw a bit. Then, with 2 minutes to go in the game, some guy just out and out boards me, in a non-checking league, and gets a 10 minute misconduct.
All of these events were way beyond normal physical contact in a non-checking league and I'm not one to whine about a little extra physicality, but these guys were clearly pissed b/c they were getting smoked and just found a Wolverine to be a convenient target for their frustration. I just kept playing the game and aside from some choice words after each incident didn't really do much.
My question for the board is: what is the appropraite response to this, given the hockey context too? Should I have just responded with a punch? Did I do the right thing by not responding? Should I have started taking cheap shots? Should I not have even said anything back? I just want to represent M in the right way.