Nothing is left to chance when it comes to gamesmanship in the playoffs — especially when the favourite is behind in their series heading into a must-win game on enemy ice.
The Victoriaville Tigres were down 2-0 to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar entering the third game of their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League series on Tuesday. They needed to do something to instill solidarity throughout the ranks in order to come back in the series. However, judging by the straits they are now in — down three games to none after an 8-2 loss — their idea of going into a V formation for pregame stretches backfired. Was that inspired by the V in the team's crest and not by having seen the Mighty Ducks movies one too many times as kids?
The Drakkar were not fazed. Having already begun stretching in their own end of the rink, captain Félix Girard and his teammates rose as one and moved closer to the Tigres, just a few feet shy of centre ice. The partisan crowd went wild, delighted to see that their beloved hometown team wasn't about to stand for these stretching shenanigans.
Once the game started, it was more of the same as the first two games in Victoriaville. The Drakkar took a two-goal lead after a period on a last-second tally by captain Girard and pulled away for the win, moving within one win of ousting a team who finished 31 points ahead of them in the regular season. It might be the greatest first-round upset in the QMJHL in many a year. .
Cultural anthropologists could probably have a field day deconstructing both groups of athletes' attempt to stake out their turf. I'll just say the visual — the Tigres slowing forming their V, the Drakkar amassing near centre ice like William Wallace's army in Braveheart — just look at awesome. It's doubtful either team derived a psychological advantage from it, but if a video says a thousand words, then it shows how much passion junior hockey players bring to the table in the playoffs.
(Stick tap: Sunaya Sapurji.)