If you can’t beat ’em, brawl ’em?
A year after leading the QMJHL in penalty minutes and fighting majors, the Halifax Mooseheads have stormed out of the gate in a new season and have already distanced themselves from the pack in both departments.
The Mooseheads, who are near the bottom of the standings yet again with a 2-6 record, already have piled up almost double the fighting majors of any other team with 19, while their 204 penalty minutes are 53 more than their closest challenger.
“I definitely think we’re the toughest team in the league,” said Mooseheads defenceman Sawyer Hannay. “That’s what we want. We want teams to fear coming in and fear playing against us every night.”
With fighting experiencing a rapid decline in the Q in part because of strict new rules, the Mooseheads are going in the opposite direction: Their 67 fighting majors last season were their highest single-season total since 2004-05.
Hannay, an 18-year-old Vancouver Canucks draft choice, is actually sitting out a four-game suspension for being over-aggressive in a game last Saturday, jumping a player for an open-ice hit on rookie Martin Frk. He concedes he went too far.
“I definitely crossed the line,” Hannay said. “It was just my reaction, but it probably wasn’t the best thing I could have done.”
But even if he went too far, Hannay doesn’t regret standing up for a fallen teammate. That’s something the Mooseheads say they pride themselves on.
“I hope that my peers would do the same for me,” Hannay said.
“We want teams to know we’re going to stick up for each other no matter what,” he added. “We want them to know, anyone wearing the Mooseheads sweater will drop the gloves if necessary.”