It is said it's not a series until someone loses on home ice, but since the Halifax Mooseheads are unbeaten in the President's Cup, maybe it's not on until there's a firestorm over a check delivered with excessive force.
During the third period of the Mooseheads' 4-3 Game 2 win over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on Saturday in the QMJHL final, Baie-Comeau's Alec Jon Banville walloped Darcy Ashley as the Halifax wing was carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Banville got a charging penalty and ended up fighting with Halifax's Stephan MacAulay. Afterward, Baie-Comeau coach Éric Veilleux did his best to push the black-and-white debate began over whether it was a dirty play into a grey area, maintaining it was a clean check while allowing that the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Banville elevated to check the 5-8, 175-pound Ashley. How can it be both a clean play and a charge? Well, because it's the playoffs.
From Willy Palov:
"To me, it was a clean hit [by] Banville on the little guy; Ashley I think it is," Veilleux said. "Yes, he flew in the air but he's not very big, number one. Then I think he probably did not see him coming. I saw the replay on the video and it was a clean hit." (Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
This did not happen in a similar game situation as the Justin Abdelkader/Toni Lydman play in the NHL that resulted in a two-game Shanaban for the Detroit Red Wings forward. There is one big similarity. Unlike some borderline or suspendable checks where there's an element of being a split-second off on the timing, Banville had Ashley lined up and could have socked him good with a textbook check delivered with his feet planted on the ice. Of course, doing that goes against the grain of the hit-to-hurt mentality that is amped up in the playoffs and which, frankly, people want to see despite the admonitions about the risk of brain injuries.
The bad blood on the ice probably started to curdle in Game 1 when Halifax star Jonathan Drouin delivered a check from behind. Drouin eluded both a major penalty and a suspension (0:30 in the Mooseheads' recap; credit Halifax for not omitting it a much-talked-about play).
Should be interesting to see how this carries over to the next two games in Baie-Comeau. The final resumes Tuesday.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (videos: Halifax Mooseheads, John Moore).