Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme critical of QMJHL standard following suspensions after brawl

Halifax Mooseheads coach Dominique Ducharme suggested Friday that his team got into "trouble with penalties" against the Quebec Remparts in a Thursday night contest between the two Quebec league powerhouses. That may qualify as the understatement of the year. The Remparts won 8-2 and went an unprecedented 6-for-17 on the powerplay, with Ducharme's group taking 36 penalties for a total of 63 minutes in penalties, most coming in the third period.

The other problem the Mooseheads ran into was suspensions. The QMJHL dinged the Mooseheads with one-game suspensions to Luca Ciampini and to Andrew Ryan for their role in provoking a brawl in the second period. "At one point the referees were seeing red a bit," Ducharme told John Moore of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. "But we certainly deserved a few of them. 15… 17… 12, we won't go back and analyze every penalty that we got and that's just behind us."

Ciampini earned a match penalty at 13:41 of the second period for cross-checking Adam Erne. There's obviously a bit of bad blood between the two clubs, as back in December, Erne avoided suspension for boarding Mooseheads star forward and follow Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin. Unsurprisingly, Ducharme disagreed with the suspension, suggesting that his team is "treated differently than the Remparts", also bringing up Remparts' Nick Sorensen's crosscheck earlier on the season on Darcy Ashley. "At some point I think [the referees] were calling things that were not happening."From Stephane Leroux of RDS, who nicely broke down the complaints from Ducharme:

It is evident the game on December 6 was fresh in the memory of the two clubs last night. That evening, a few days before star players would leave their teams for the World junior championships, Adam Erne earned a game misconduct for hitting Jonathan Drouin from behind, but eventually wasn't disciplined further. Furthermore, the league rescinded the match penalty call by the officials against Erne. "We have to ask serious questions about the way to evaluate these cases! It's as if when the Remparts are involved, it's different!" Ducharme said, who will be without Ciampini and Ryan for Friday's game against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Ciamipini's crosscheck can be seen at about the 1:50 mark of the video below, during a pretty good rant by Ducharme against the officiating. Immediately following, teammate Ryan fired the puck at the felled Erne after the whistle had blown, earning Ryan his one-game suspension:

One has to think that Ducharme is hinting at the standard used by maritime clubs in the Q, that there's an inherent bias in favour of the French clubs. This was brought up by former Saint John Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant in Shawinigan at the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup, who was fined $500 following comments made after a round robin game against London:

"I've been complaining all year. I've been in the Quebec league for three years and I've been complaining for three years. We always get the short end of the stick and I'm tired of it, I really am. How does Huberdeau get a penalty at the end of the game for four minutes for roughing? I watched that (Danick) Gauthier slash — I mean give me a break. I'm not taking (anything) away from London, they were the better team. But I'm so tired of that. You show your frustration at the end of the game, I don't want to do that but it's been over and over again, so I'm tired of it."

The divide between the maritime and Quebec teams in Canada's craziest hockey league is just one of the many subplots of Thursday's chaotic game. Never mind Zach Fucale getting pulled after 40 minutes and six goals, or Anthony Duclair's seven-point night.

Ducharme didn't go "full Gallant", and he certainly didn't get close to suggesting there are two sets of rules among the English and French QMJHL clubs. The blowout (it was already 4-1 when Ciampini crosschecked Erne) certainly played a part and tensions hadn't cooled down more than a month after Drouin's concussion. The teams won't meet anymore in the regular season, which is a bit of a bummer for fans that love the unadulterated violence of a QMJHL game (and also those that love the skill on each team) but there's a slim chance the two could meet in the postseason. Slim is the key word. Quebec is rolling and will likely finish the season with the 1st or 4th seeds, which doesn't mean that they'll have a shot to meet the Mooseheads in the playoffs until the fourth round, barring weird first round upsets, which tend not to happen in the Q.

Note that Ciampini and Ryan weren't the only players dinged by the Q this week. Trevor Stacey of Sherbrooke and Bokonji Imama of Baie-Comeau earned automatic one-game suspensions for an accumulation of ejections. Meanwhile, Philadelphia Flyers first rounder Samuel Morin was also hit by the QMJHL on Thursday. The big Rimouski Oceanic defender will sit for two games for "inappropriate behaviour" and fined $250 for throwing his stick into the crowd in a game against Blainville-Boisbriand. According to Morin, he was trying to hit the glass, missed, and nearly struck a spectator.

So, yes, if you had any questions whether the Q was still the Q… it is.

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