Rule 73.5 Overall Philosophy - Officials must us a philosophy of "when in doubt, the goal must count." Unless the official is certain that a goal was scored through an illegal action, the goal must count. Games that have video replay available may correct egregious errors, but the standard of evidence required to disallow a goal is significant.
As much as I love hockey, I hate a few aspects of it.
What happened in Sunday night's game at 3M Arena at Mariucci (what an atrocious name) is at the top of the list.
No, it wasn't Ryan Lindgren's elbow hitting Mikey Eyssimont in the head and only getting a minor for it when it clearly should have been at least a major. Because why should the NCAA care about head injuries.
In the second period, Blake Lizotte entered the Gophers zone on a rush. He pulled up just past the blue line (what I have termed a "Gretzky Circle") and waited for the trailer; it happened to be Eyssimont who buried the shot past Gopher goalie Matt Robson to take a 1-0 lead.
The referees got together and looked at the replays for a few minutes. I was already annoyed due to having an unnecessary review. There was nothing wrong with the play; there was no one near the goalie. Just move the game on.
Oh, but let's go ahead and wait a few minutes to 'confirm' something everyone knows.
Referees come out - good goal. "Duh", I think to myself, annoyed it took as long as it did. Fine. Up 1-0. Little momentum. We are good.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia was still clearly upset, wanted the referees to look for offsides. So...back to the review box they go.
At this time, a Gopher player skated over to tell the referee to challenge for too many men.
Are you still following me? Because I watched it for nearly ten minutes, I'm typing it and I'm still confused on what happened.
So, apparently, the referee can go into the box to look at any scoring play at any time to look for a player in the crease. However, a challenge has to be issued to look at offsides or too many men on the ice.
The biggest thing that ticks off Huskies fans was that the Fox Sports telecast didn't have any angle that shows six Huskies skaters on the ice. Well, apparently there was, because it was shown on the scoreboard at 3M Arena (which technically isn't allowed to show during a review) which got a cheer from the home crowd.
You know how this ends up. It gets waived off. Gophers score in the third. Tack on an empty net goal. Gophers win 2-0.
My biggest issue isn't that the Huskies lost. I was happy with how the game was played for the most part. David Hrenak played extremely well and the goal was off a bad pass by Luke Jaycox that was picked off and left Hrenak out to dry. (Side note: This is a great learning experience for Jaycox. He has been excellent this season as a freshman and mistakes like that happen. Better they happen now than in March. He will be a huge asset when Will Borgen leaves for the Olympics.) Great teams counter and play above all instances; including bad calls and bad bounces. There were plenty of chances to make that a non-factor and the Huskies didn't capitalize.
My issue is the same issue that has been plaguing hockey; we are looking for reasons to overturn goals. The one thing in college
hockey that gets everyone excited and here we are dissecting every minor reason to waive it off. No one has ever said, "It was an alright game, but I just think there were too many goals. I could do without a few."
In this particular play, the referees looked at three different reasons ask to why this goal shouldn't count, which is COMPLETELY the opposite of whatrule 73.5 states. This isn't where I talk about how the officials screwed over the Huskies. The Huskies had many chances to score
and either shot it wide or into the shinpads of the Gophers. You aren't going to win without scoring more, especially when the defense and Hrenak played as stellar as they did.
This is greater than just this game. This is a scary trend in hockey as a whole. We are so obsessed with getting every minute detail correct, we
lose the greater picture. Momentum was completely stopped on both sides. We are sitting and waiting for reviews to complete as the officials are obsessing if a skate was a millimeter offside or if a skate was in the air instead of on the ice.
This is getting into 'skate in the crease' territory. Even if the Huskies had six on the ice at that particular time (again, I haven't seen any evidence of it), did it effect the play? It was a line change like any other. No penalty was called, so it's not like the Huskies had six buzzing around the zone. If the puck went in a second later, it would have counted.
The offsides challenge really came to the forefront after the Matt Duchene play where he was about four feet offside and scored (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c11Bu7npPSA
). Everyone starting thinking about losing the Stanley Cup on a play like this. That line of thinking has turned into NHL games reviewing offsides by a fraction of an inch. That has trickled down to college hockey and now replay has expanded include solutions to a problem that never existed.
Hockey is way behind in popularity. Everyone I've every introduced it to and convinced to go to a game has turned into a fan. But we can't grow the game if we don't simplify it. We have already over-complicated how the standings work and its now too complicated to even know what a goal is. It shouldn't have to be at Avril Lavigne levels of complicated to find out what is and isn't the most essential part of the game.
Last night, Lucia gamed the system perfectly. He waited for the officials to instigate a review for goalie interference, all the while his staff had the perfect opportunity to look at the play and see the ability to challenge. He had the time and used it well. He succeeded.
So, how do we fix it? Easy. Get rid of the official's ability to review the play. No more automatic "we will take a look at it." If the coach isn't happy with a call, let him challenge for a specific reason. If he is wrong,
he loses a timeout if he has one. If no timeout, his team gets a two-minute delay of game penalty. Go with the call on the ice. If the coach isn't happy, let him gamble. This eliminates wasted time of officials always second guessing themselves and using replay as a crutch. It keeps the pace going, which is one of the main reasons fans love hockey.
Most important, it would keep rule 73.5 to what it was intended to do. Currently, we are looking for ways to decrease scoring, which is exactly the opposite of what hockey needs right now.
This blog is the opinion of Travis Weldon, College hockey fan and frequent guest of Granite City Sports. You can read more from Travis on Twitter @MoarClappers.