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Pro hockey: Danbury coach arrested after Privateers game

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The opposing coach in the Watertown Privateers’ Federal Hockey League game Wednesday was arrested after the game’s completion, accused of pushing a woman and her 7-year-old daughter at Watertown Fairgrounds Arena.

The Danbury Whalers’ head coach, Philip P. Esposito Jr., 43, of East Haven, Conn., was arrested by city police.

According to police, Esposito pushed Jennifer L. Bellis, of 1126 Holcomb St., and her daughter, causing the young girl to fall to the ground.

He was arrested at 8:09 p.m. and charged with two counts of second-degree harassment and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Esposito was taken to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building and released on $100 police bail.

Esposito was arrested less than an hour after the Privateers defeated the Whalers, 4-1. Two games ago, Esposito was assessed a game misconduct penalty for abuse of officials in Watertown’s 6-5 victory over Danbury on Sunday at the Fairgrounds.

Esposito is in his third season as head coach of the Danbury franchise.

Before joining the Whalers as an assistant coach in the 2010-11 campaign, Esposito, who is not related to NHL legend Phil Esposito, served as head coach for the Hudson Valley Bears (2008-09) and Connecticut C-Dogs of the North East Professional Hockey League (2009-10). He also was a player-assistant coach for the New England Stars in the 2007-08 season.

Esposito’s playing career spanned 1989-99, during which he played a part of one season for the U.S. Military Academy and also included stints in the East Coast Hockey League and other pro leagues.

Last year, Danbury swept the Privateers in three games in the opening round of the FHL playoffs. This season, the Whalers lead the season series with Watertown, 5-3.

The Privateers next play the Whalers on Jan. 25-26 in Danbury and their next scheduled home game against the team is on Feb. 28 at the Fairgrounds.

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