The Charlottetown Islanders were called for a late faceoff violation that proved costly, leading to an overtime loss in Sunday’s Game 2 of the QMJHL Final.
Leading 3-2 with less than two minutes to play, Charlottetown center Xavier Simoneau faced off against Shawinigan’s Mavrik Bourque. The puck popped up in the air off the draw, where it was gloved down by Simoneau. Linesman Mat Hicks immediately whistled the play dead for a faceoff violation — and a penalty.
Like the NHL, the QMJHL recently updated their rule book to include a penalty for a hand pass on the faceoff. Here’s rule 67.2:
A minor penalty shall be assessed for ‘delay of game – face-off violation’ to a player taking the face-off who … attempts to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand.
NOTE: The two players involved in the actual face-off (the centers) are not permitted to play the puck with their hand without incurring a penalty under this rule until such time as a third player (from either team) has at least touched the puck. Once the face-off is deemed complete (and a winner of the face-off is clear) hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79 Hand Pass.
Since Simoneau gloved it down, that’s a penalty under the letter of the law.
Typically, we see this enforced for a push along the ice, similar to what Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli did against the Florida Panthers. (Note that there was no penalty called on that play – though there should have been – just the goal disallowed for a missed stoppage.)
“What can I say? I just make $60 a week, so I’ll say nothing,” Simoneau remarked after the game, looking to avoid a fine for criticizing the officials. “I’ve been playing hockey and watching it since I was [little]. It’s the first time I’ve seen it. It’s frustrating for sure… the call was made.”
— Charlottetown Islanders (@IslandersHKY) June 6, 2022
It’s rare to see the puck pop up the way it did, which makes the circumstances of this play somewhat unusual — as well as unfortunate for the Islanders. In any other situation, Simoneau can glove it down to himself and play the puck. At worst, it’s a stoppage for a hand pass if it goes to a teammate. On a faceoff, though, the rules are different: that’s a penalty.
“It’s a bad decision,” said Islanders head coach Jim Hulton. “It’s not intentional. I’ve never seen it called that. It’s frustrating.”
Shawinigan was able to tie the game on the ensuing power play, posting the game-tying goal with just six seconds remaining.
The Cataractes went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Referees for the game were Jeff Hopkins (#20) and Mario Maillet (#21). Linesmen were Jay Doiron (#55) and Mat Hicks (#58).