Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Hopefully) The Last Word on Bergman's Non-Goal Goal

Many UMD fans have asked my opinion of this since Saturday, but I've held off for a number of reasons. However, I figured I'd leave you for the holiday with a few words on the controversy that erupted in the third period of the UMD-Minnesota game.

It's a controversy that was rendered irrelevant by Mike Montgomery's late game-winner, but still one worth discussing.

If you missed it, UMD had an apparent goal taken off the board about halfway through the third period. The Bulldogs got the puck to Gopher goalie Alex Kangas, who couldn't find the biscuit to cover it up. Instead, it was free for freshman defenseman Wade Bergman, who crashed the net. As Bergman got to the net, he appeared to have his skates clipped by the stick of Gopher Tony Lucia, which sent Bergman crashing into Kangas. As he went down, he got his stick on the puck and tried to steer it past Kangas. Before anyone knew it, he had crashed into Kangas, and the puck was across the goal line.

Referee Don Adam stood over the net and signaled ... absolutely nothing.

Adam and partner Timm Walsh headed to the scorer's table, prepared to look at the play on video. More than five minutes later, Adam returned a "no-goal" verdict, and play eventually continued.

I had a couple problems with the call.
  • The idea of video review is to look at a play and determine if the call on the ice stands. To overturn it, you need indisputable video evidence to show you, as the referee making the call, were wrong. It's very hard to do this if you don't make a call on the ice. Adam failed to do that, and so no one knew what he was trying to accomplish in the video review.
  • Had Bergman kicked the puck into the net, the goal wouldn't have counted. While the final determination couldn't be made whether he had the puck go in off his skate or not, it was obvious that the puck did indeed touch his stick as he crashed into Kangas.
Our buddy Kevin Pates got on the horn with WCHA officiating czar Greg Shepherd this week, and the results were kind of interesting.

Shepherd, said Tuesday, first of all, that a call should've been made at the time by the on-ice officials before any video review. He said that not making a call was a mistake. He said that if an offensive player, on his own power, goes into the goalie and into the net, with the puck, there is no goal. He said that if an offensive player is pushed or tripped into the goalie and into the net by a defending player, along with the puck, then the goal is legal.

I'm not in favor -- believe it or not -- of throwing officials under the bus. They work hard, get paid little, put up with way too much grief, have a ton of pressure, and generally do a good job. Case in point: Adam and Walsh almost flawlessly navigated their way through a hard-fought two-game series. In both games, the visiting team (justifiably) had more power plays, and stuff was missed both ways. Since these guys are human, that stuff's going to happen. The point is that they were fairly consistent, let the kids play, but didn't let the overly flagrant stuff go.

(I saw a couple e-mails referring to the elbowing call on Drew Olson that launched the Gophers' five-on-three in the first period. Yes, that was an incorrect call, but it looked live like Olson elbowed a kid in the head, and the officials are under strict orders from the NCAA to crack down on head contact. Given that edict and the look of the play when it happened, it's hard to get too upset about the call.)

Unfortunately for Adam and Walsh, it was their second controversy in as many weeks (they were the ones who called a major penalty on the wrong guy in the St. Cloud-North Dakota series the previous weekend). Those things don't tend to sit too well with any officiating boss.

No comments: