Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Illegal Hits Strike Again in WCHA

One week after all the attention in the WCHA was on a near-fight that came after a real fight was broken up, all in response to an improperly-handled illegal hit from November, we can start paying attention to YouTubes of illegal hits again.

Of course, these are the worst types of illegal hits. They're the kind that don't get called.

A major emphasis in college hockey this season has been on hits to the head. You're supposed to see a virtually automatic penalty anytime a player hits an opponent square in the head. There have been a number of silly applications of this rule (including penalties on players who were merely trying to protect themselves and brace for a hit), but it's all in the name of player safety.

Naturally, however, the ability of officials to consistently apply this mandate in such a fast-moving game has come into question.

We take you first to Saturday's St. Cloud State-Wisconsin game, as Badger captain Blake Geoffrion -- usually on the other end of borderline or dirty hits -- ends up in a heap in the middle of the ice, courtesy of SCSU's Aaron Marvin.

Yes, that Aaron Marvin. Obviously, officials Brad Shepherd, Todd Anderson, "Big" Brad Roethlisberger, and Mike Gulenchyn didn't see an illegal hit.

They missed it. This is, by definition, an illegal hit. Maybe Marvin is guilty of nothing five years ago, though you'd like to think a dangerous hit that sees Marvin aim for Geoffrion's head would have been a penalty even before the sport started to wise up on things like this.

Especially given that Marvin is developing a bit of a reputation for crossing the line in his physical play.

This isn't meant to be a rip-job on the officials, but it's rather hard to believe that four guys in striped shirts could miss an illegal hit on the player who had the puck when he got hit.

Also on Saturday, as North Dakota was completing their sweep of UMD, Bulldog sophomore Mike Connolly, who has been hit in the head this season without anything being called, was once again the victim of an illegal hit.

You can't tell for sure on this video if Corban Knight of the Sioux hits him with an elbow, but Rink and Run's Kevin Pates reports that is the claim of the UMD coaches. Regardless of what part of Knight hit Connolly, it's obvious that something hit the winger in the head, as he has a concussion and a black eye from the hit.

Officials C.J. Beaurline, Peter Friesema, Nathan Freeman, and Matt Ulwelling, like their colleagues in Madison, didn't see anything illegal and didn't call a penalty. In their defense, I was at the game and didn't see anything illegal from my chair, either.

We'll see how touch the WCHA wants to be in this headshot mandate. No, penalties were not called on either hit, but at least the Marvin hit -- if not both -- deserve a serious look on video. The league hasn't been nearly tough enough on supplemental discipline this season, and if they don't start getting tough, none of this is going to stop.


Runninwiththedogs said...

Didn't you know, Bruce? Mike Connolly dove there. At least, that's what the Kelly Green and Black fans are saying.

Anonymous said...

Only SCCC and UM dive. It's hard to tell even in slow motion, it would be nice to see the hit from a couple different camera angles to get a solid idea of what really happened.