November 12, 2011
It's no secret Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centre Nick Cousins is one of the biggest agitators in the Ontario Hockey League — but nothing justifies this.
The tension and tumult of the Greyhounds' white-knuckle 4-3 road win over the league-leading London Knights boiled over big time at the final buzzer on Friday.
Cousins a Philadelphia Flyers draftee and the Soo's No. 1 centre, said something to the Knights' Ryan Rupert, who retaliated by swinging his stick at him and then leaping on Cousins as he was down on the ice. Since the Greyhounds were already coming off the bench to congratulate goalie Jack Campbell for his 48-save night, all hell broke loose.
The topper to an emotionally charged night was that Knights GM Mark Hunter seemed to imply that Cousins, who did get a misconduct, deserved to be whacked with a stick. From Ryan Pyette:
Cousins received a misconduct for inciting and Rupert received a major penalty for his slash.
There are suspensions in store for the multiple scraps. Both teams stayed on the ice surface an additional five minutes after the final buzzer as a full-scale brawl threatened to break out.
"I'm not naming names but if they go to their goalie to celebrate, then nothing happens," London GM Mark Hunter said.
... "Nick will get under your skin," said Soo defenceman Ryan Sproul, who scored the third-period winner. "He's the kind of guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against.
"You talk to guys and they say they can't stand him, but he's our best player and we're going to stand behind him and that's what we did." (London Free Press)
It was just the Knights' second loss on home ice, and playing against the Greyhounds, one of the biggest teams in the OHL, can grate on the nerves. More to the point, it's not the first incident that blew up when Cousins was in the vicinity.
This came just more than a month to the day that the Greyhounds had a near-brawl with the Kitchener Rangers, who took umbrage with Cousins chirping at their goalie, Franky Palazzese. Anyway, the game summary tells a tale of the chaos that unfolded and OHL commissioner David Branch will probably be busy meting out suspensions next week.
Lost in the shuffle was that the Greyhounds are 3-0 with Campbell in goal, including road wins over two teams that lead their divisions.
One oddity: this took place on Remembrance Day and the Kitchener incident came on Thanksgiving Day. Watch out the next time the Greyhounds go into another team's building on a holiday. It could get tense. Meantime, a rivalry for the rest of the season was probably sparked tonight.
(Stick tap: video: Loose Pucks.)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: Rogers Television).