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'Big brother' leads scrappy Mooseheads squad in dropping the gloves

When push comes to shove, the Halifax Mooseheads start swinging — and they don’t think twice.

When push comes to shove, the Halifax Mooseheads start swinging — and they don’t think twice.

The Mooseheads have shown they’ll throw down the gloves at a moment’s notice, setting an intimidating tone with 31 fighting majors in 24 games, second in the QMJHL.

Designated enforcer Spencer Metcalfe, a 19-year-old defenceman, leads all players with nine scraps, while 17-year-old blueliner Garrett Clarke is second with seven.

Pugilism, it seems, is the name of the game.

“That’s what a good team’s all about — standing up for each other,” said Metcalfe, who was described as a “big brother” by head coach Cam Russell when he was acquired from the Gatineau Olympiques in a pre-season trade.

“We do it when we need to. We have some tough guys who aren’t scared to go, and if that’s what it takes to get the guys going or turn things around, that’s something we do.”

Fighting is down in the Q — way down. Last season, rule changes cut the league’s total fighting majors nearly in half, from 1,133 to just 618. Yet the Mooseheads are on pace for 87 fights, more than they’ve had since 2001-02 and almost double last season’s 44, which ranked third in the league.

“It might not be the same thing it was 10 years ago, but all the fans and all the guys (on the team) love it,” Metcalfe said. “It’s a team thing and it gets the guys going.”

The Mooseheads are on a four-game winning streak and they’ve dropped the gloves nine times in that stretch. That’s more fights than any four-game stretch all season.

While that might be a coincidence, the Mooseheads hope they’re making life difficult for opposing teams.

“They don’t like to play us, for sure,” said forward Charles Bety. “We’re a tough team to play against.”

All fight data courtesy of hockeyfights.com.