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Fight after Gophers-Sioux hockey game lands one in jail, one in hospital

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Fight after Gophers-Sioux hockey game lands one in jail, one in hospital
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

An altercation between fans Friday night after the Sioux-Gopher hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena on UND's campus led to one man being hospitalized in serious condition and another jailed on serious charges.


According to UND Police Chief Duane Czapiewski, Peter Chwialkowski, 28, Oslo, Minn., was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Friday after the altercation at UND and is in the jail Sunday awaiting an initial court appearance today on a felony charge of aggravated assault.

Chwialkowski (pronounced "Fee-a-koski") apparently is a 2004 graduate of UND, originally from the Argyle, Minn., area.

Serious condition

The man injured in the altercation, Jason Smith, 34, Grand Forks, was in serious condition in the intensive care unit of Altru Hospital Sunday, a nursing supervisor said.

UND beat the University of Minnesota Gophers 4-0 on Friday night.

According to Smith's father, Jason Smith and his brother, Aaron Smith, both Sioux fans, were leaving the arena Friday after the game when Jason was "sucker-punched" by a fan.

Czapiewski said Chwialkowski remained at the scene on the northeast side of the REA until UND police officers arrived and arrested him without incident. The investigation continues, and more witnesses are being interviewed, but Chwialkowski was arrested on suspicion that he punched Smith, who was unconscious on the ground when police arrived, Czapiewski said. People who were with Chwialkowski were wearing clothing indicating they were Gopher fans, Czapiewski said.

According to Jason Smith's father, John Smith, Grand Forks, the altercation involved four men, according to his son, Aaron Smith, who was involved.

The confrontation began with an unidentified man pushing Aaron Smith, after the two exchanged words over the game, said John Smith.

Aaron Smith, "who is on crutches because he had knee surgery, made a comment to this guy, something to the effect that the Gophers better bring their 'A' game tomorrow night," John Smith said. "So, this guy shoves my son who is on crutches. Jason steps in, and there was a shove, and then this guy, the friend of the guy who shoved Aaron, sucker-punched Jason."

The man who punched Jason Smith was Peter Chwialkowski, John Smith said.

Jason Smith fell and hit his head on the pavement, seriously injuring his skull, John Smith said.

"He's still in an induced coma. He fractured his skull."

Surgery was performed.

"He's got 16 plates in his skull, and 63 screws. Right now, they are weaning him off the sedation, so he's popping in and out. But he has no idea where he is."

The scans of his son's brain "look pretty good," and show no permanent brain damage, John Smith said.

Czapiewski said Chwialkowski will appear in state district court today in Grand Forks on the felony charge. How much Smith recovers might affect the possible sentence Chwialkowski could face if he is convicted.

In North Dakota law, aggravated assault is a Class C felony, with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, unless the victim suffers permanent damage to an organ or his body, in which case aggravated assault can be charged as a Class B felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

No one else has been arrested in the incident, but the investigation isn't complete, the police chief said.

Separately, more than 17 people were cited by UND police Friday and Saturday night for being minors consuming alcohol in connection with the two hockey games, Czapiewski said.

Pioneer staff reports