The Boston Bruins may not be expecting to see Charlie McAvoy fight too often. But the rookie defenseman held his own in his first career fighting major against Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at TD Garden, completing a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.”
You can watch the bout from the Bruins’ win over Columbus below, via Sportsnet on YouTube. McAvoy delivered what looked like a high check to Dubois in order to protect the puck in the corner. The Blue Jackets blue liner took exception to that, dropping the gloves and getting a few shots in before McAvoy battled back.
He also scored a power play goal, his fifth of the season, when he slapped the puck past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky off a great look from fellow rookie Jake DeBrusk:
The rookie added an assist in the third period to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick when he pushed the puck up the ice to David Backes. The veteran then fed a streaking Danton Heinen, who buried his eighth goal of the season.
The Gordie Howe Hat Trick was the first since Zdeno Chara pulled it off on Nov. 29, 2013 against the New York Rangers. In an era where fights are happening less and less, the accomplishment is only becoming more rare.
Holding His Own
McAvoy told reporters after the game that he wasn’t exactly planning on fighting much, but understands that it’s something he’ll encounter in the flow of games over the course of his career.
“It definitely wasn’t even on the list,” said McAvoy of achieving the Gordie Howe Hat Trick. “I know that I try to play the game with a lot of passion, and that’s something he was doing too. Stuff like that is going to happen. There’s been times along the line this year where something that might have happened, but tonight it just did. It happened really quick, and I felt like I was able to protect myself pretty well.”
The 19-year-old credited former AHL teammate Tyler Randell with teaching him how to protect himself during a fight, which is often half the battle.
The rookie impressed head coach Bruce Cassidy with his performance in his first career fisticuffs at the NHL level.
“He did very well; he’s a strong kid,” Cassidy said of the Charlie McAvoy fight. “I don’t know if historically he’s a guy that’s dropped – in college I don’t assume you do anyway – but if ever along the line. But he’s so strong and smart I imagine he’ll be able to handle himself, but so I think he’s 1-0 to start. Anyway, good for him.”
McAvoy has shown plenty of skills and smarts to start his NHL career – an uncommon level of it for a kid who turns 20 years old on Thursday. But he also continues to show some eye-opening strength and toughness to go with his scoring ability. This was likely far from his last fight, and maybe not his last Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.