The Saskatoon Blades set out to hammer the smaller London Knights forwards in Friday night's Memorial Cup opener.
Max Domi threw that plan for a loop by wiping out the host team's Shane McColgan with a massive – and clean – body check that knocked the wind out of the veteran centre.
“When you see a nice, big clean hit like that, it gets everyone up on the bench,” Knights overage forward Tyler Ferry said. “We were a little sluggish and that gave us an extra boost. We knew they were going to come hit and I got hit there pretty good on the first shift twice. It doesn't hurt one bit. That's the way you grow up playing hockey.
“You've got to be able to take a hit and give a hit.”
Whenever a player goes down from a big check nowadays, the natural reaction is to wonder if it was illegal or not. That constant paranoia about possible suspension is part and parcel of today's sport.
“That's the nature of the beast,” Ferry said. “We're trying to get head shots out of the game and there's no question It (the Domi hit) wasn't a head shot. You've got to review those head shots and keep them out of the game.”
Ferry said he watched it on the replay to make sure.
“It was just shoulder to sternum,” he said. “The ref even said during the game it was a good hit. You don't want to see anyone get injured and he did (McColgan) come back and he did play, which was good to see. You like to see those nice, clean hits in a game.”
London head coach Dale Hunter wasn't surprised to see the 18-year-old Domi, who has never fought in the OHL, deliver such a bone rattler.
“He's a powerful guy,” Hunter said. “Max has big legs and he hit him with a clean check. You seen the opening draw there. They (the Blades) were trying to intimidate. We play hard. We just went out and played hockey.”
Domi's opinion on it?
“I was in the right place at the right time and got the boys going,” he said. “Whatever it takes, a hit, a scoring chance, a big save.”