Montreal Canadiens prospects are faring quite well in the CHL Playoffs this spring. There are Habs prospects playing for a title in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL right now.
Habs first round pick Kaiden Guhle and the Edmonton Oil Kings are leading the Seattle Thunderbirds 2-1 in the WHL Final. Jan Mysak and Arber Xhekaj are facing off against Daniil Sobolev in the OHL Final. Sobolev’s Windsor Spitfires lead that series 2-1 over the Hamilton Bulldogs.
In the QMJHL, Xavier Simoneau and William Trudeau are trailing 2-0 to the Shawinigan Cataractes. A big reason the Charlottetown Islanders are behind is a couple of controversial plays involving Simoneau.
The Habs 6th round pick in 2021 has had a fantastic offensive season for the Islanders. He scored 86 points in 48 regular season games and has 16 points in 11 playoff contests. But, his impact on the QMJHL Final has not been ideal so far.
First of all, he was suspended for Game 1 after hitting Xavier Parent from behind in the final game of the conference final. Without their top offensive player, the Islanders lost Game 1 by a 5-1 score.
The second game of the series was a back and forth affair. The Islanders fell behind 1-0 after the first but took a 2-1 lead into the third period. Mavrik Bourque scored to tie the game for the Shawinigan Cataractes, but the Islanders pulled ahead once again with just over a minute to play.
On the ensuing face-off, which Simoneau took for Charlottetown, he was called for a face-off violation. It was, a controversial decision by the linesman who was dropping the puck at centre ice.
The puck bounces into the air and you can see Simoneau turn and play it with his hand. He sort of knocks it forward before trying to chip it into the Cataractes zone, though he is unsuccessful. A second later, the whistle blows and everyone seems confused. Then, Simoneau is escorted to the penalty box.
The Cataractes scored to tie the game with six seconds remaining and would score again early in overtime to win the game and take a 2-0 series lead. The fans in Charlottetown were not too pleased with linesman Mat Hicks, but a further look at the rulebook suggests he made the correct call.
Rule 76.4 in the QMJHL Rule Book states: “Both players facing off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either centre to win the face-off with their hand shall result in a minor penalty. The two players involved in the face-off are not permitted to play the puck with their hand until such time as a third player (from either team) has touched the puck.”
That is pretty black and white. Neither centre can touch the puck with their hand until a third player has touched the puck. Simoneau reached back and swatted the puck with his hand, so he was assessed a minor penalty for a face-off violation.
I can’t imagine this is the scenario officials had in mind when they created this rule, but the linesman in this situation applied the letter of the law and the correct call was made.
It is unfortunate that Simoneau sat in the penalty box and watched the opposing team tie the game with six seconds left. However, the wording of the rule does dictate he can’t use his hands at all until a third player gets involved and plays the puck.
Charlottetown now heads to Shawinigan for Game 3 of the QMJHL Final tonight. Game 4 will be played tomorrow night before the series returns to Charlottetown for Game 5 on Saturday. That is, if the Islanders win one of these two games in Shawinigan and extend the series beyond four games.
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