Bench skirmish no big deal for Knights
RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency
|Shawinigan Cataractes forward Alexandre Grand-Maison is hit by London Knights defenceman Brett Cook during their Memorial Cup match in Shawinigan, Que., May 20, 2012. (MATHIEU BELANGER/Reuters)
SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - Mark Hunter doesn't think his London Knights should be taking all the blame for late-game fireworks in their 6-2 loss to the Memorial Cup host Shawinigan Cataractes Sunday night.
TV cameras caught London forwards Greg McKegg and Matt Rupert throwing punches from the bench at pesky Shawinigan fourth-liner Alex Grand-Maison during a scrum with 2.5 seconds left in the game.
"Their player came by the bench and was screaming," Hunter, the London GM and head coach, said. "There's no need for that. Just enjoy your win and skate away. It (the incident) wasn't anything. They were just a couple of shoves, pushing him away from the bench."
The Canadian Hockey League fined the Knights $1,000 Monday for physical contact initiated from the bench. That's twice as much as Saint John head coach Gerard Gallant's $500 hit for blasting the Quebec league and its officals in a rant Saturday night after losing to London.
Grand-Maison, a 17-year-old from Mirabel, Que., didn't expect to be punched by Knights who weren't on the ice.
"Who would," Shawinigan head coach Eric Veilleux asked.
But the feisty forward realizes his style makes him a target.
"I'm doing my job," he said with a wide grin. "They punched me. I'm OK. I'm a pest. That's my job for the team.
"I like to receive a punch in my face. I get a lot of punches, hits, fights. It's fun."
Neither of the Knights players were penalized. Neither side is anticipating any further discipline.
McKegg, the former Erie Otters captain and Toronto Maple Leafs pick, said he reacted in the heat of the moment.
"It was out of character for me," he said. "I don't usually do that. It was a little bit of frustation coming out, that's it. Emotions were running pretty high and I probably wish I could have that one back."
McKegg acknowledged there are few secrets in a nationally-televised game. He saw a TV cameraman on skates out on the ice filming while London overage defenceman Brett Cook and Shawinigan tough guy Vincent Arseneau engaged in a spirited punch-up.
"That was different," McKegg said. "They don't miss too much. We're all battling out there trying to win. The games are physical and it's not anything we really didn't expect.
"It's a big tournament."
While Gallant blasted the Quebec league and its officiating after his team's loss to London, Hunter didn't go down that road. But he wants the refs to crack down on diving after seeing it happen a couple of times in the Shawinigan game.
"They've got to watch the flops," he said. "I watched the video and the Max Domi tripping penalty they called, he hardly even touched the other guy, but their guy was rolling around on the ice.
"That's got to stop."