The last time the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada met in a semi-final series, the brawls stayed largely on the ice.
This time around, the brawls are with words.
In Game 4 on Wednesday, the Armada doubled up the Drakkar 4-2 in a hard-fought game that ended with a Drakkar captain Félix Girard spear to the nether regions of Armada defenceman Daniel Walcott after the final buzzer.
In the post-game scrum, Armada coach J-F Houle called out Girard for his spear, saying it was a “loser cheap shot.”
“It’s inappropriate and there’s no place for that play in hockey,” Houle said. “The league will decide, but it would be a good time for them to impose a severe punishment with some gravity.
“We informed the league about this type of thing before the series even began.”
For his trouble, Girard earned a one-game suspension for the incident, while Armada forward Ryan Tesink earned a one-game ban for throwing a water bottle.
Baie-Comeau coach Eric Veilleux was having none of that, calling out the Armada coach in a press conference of his own on Thursday.
“I was shocked when I heard what Houle was saying about Girard’s slash,” Veilleux said. “If he were to criticize me, the way I’m coaching, I have no problem with that. One of my players was called ‘loser’ on television. That’s what I didn’t like.”
Veilleux defended his captain, adding he’s one of the finest leaders in the QMJHL.
“When I heard ‘loser’, I had no idea how that could be attached to Girard,” he continued. “With all that he’s done, for the organization and for the league as a whole in terms of leadership, I thought it was cheap on their part and it made me react.”
Veilleux thinks Bouchard uses media
Furthermore, Veilleux is none too happy with the treatment his team has faced so far in his series versus the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. In particular, he contends Armada GM Joël Bouchard has been using his contacts in the media to make the Armada look better and his team look worse.
“He has the chance to call the [media] and do interviews whenever it suits him,” Veilleux said, referring to Bouchard. “We have a great organization here in Baie-Comeau, but I don’t have the chance to call up the media whenever I want. When they have something to say, they call the media and it’s national news.”
After 14 seasons in professional hockey, Bouchard was hired as an analyst on RDS, before joining TVA Sports on a freelance basis. He will be hosting Académie du hockey, an educational hockey show hosted by Bouchard showing practice drills with current and former NHL players. The show is set to run Saturday nights on TVA starting in the fall.
Wednesday’s Game 4 aired on TVA Sports as part of their QMJHL playoff coverage.
“When I saw the media’s [handling] of [the Girard incident], that’s when I clued in to the power of Mr. Bouchard,” Veilleux said.
Two players suspended ahead of Game 5 is short of last year
Suspensions to Girard and Tesink for Game 5 mean both teams will be short important forwards in their deck. Girard is a key shutdown center for the Drakkar, while Tesink is an agile playmaker who can control a game for the Aramda.
But it’s just two players in street clothes for suspensions, not seven. Last year’s Game 4 featured a bench clearing brawl that got seven players, including with three goaltenders, and both head coaches the night off for Game 5. This time, it’s only Girard and Tesink.
Girard has a goal and five assists in 12 games this postseason, while Tesink has a point-a-game, 12-in-12.
Tesink’s suspension is his second one of the post-season. He was suspended five games for a hit-from-behind on Moncton Wildcats’ defenceman Adam Holwell in the first round.
Veilleux, who won a Memorial Cup coaching the Shawinigan Cataractes in 2012, wouldn’t tip his hand for what he has in store for Game 5, but he says his team will be ready.
“We saw the theatrics [at the end of the game on Wednesday],” Veilleux said of his counterpart behind the Armada bench. “We’re getting ready for Friday night, and you will be sure we will be very ready.”