Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Blowing Off Steam After ANOTHER Frustrating Loss in North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Unfortunately, frustration seems to come along with any trip we make to Grand Forks for hockey.

More of it came Friday night, as UMD lost 4-2 at Ralph Engelstad Arena in a game that featured over five minutes of action before the first whistle of the game, two goals scored with UMD skaters laying in the net, what felt like about a ten-minute review of a play that had already been reviewed, and your typical inconsistent call-nothing-and-then-call-everything officiating.

Let's pick apart the important stuff.

Early in the third period, a Michael Parks wraparound attempt appeared to be stopped by UMD defenseman Willie Corrin. Why Corrin? Because he was checked into the net behind the play, and couldn't get out of the crease area before Parks got the puck there.

Only, it wasn't stopped.

Referees Derek Shepherd and CJ Beaurline took a look at the video and quickly confirmed there was no goal scored.

Only, they must not have looked closely.

According to what I was told after the game, it seems UND coach Dave Hakstol told the officials that the team's video coordinator upstairs had looked at the replay and seen it was clearly a goal. Armed with that news, Shepherd and Beaurline went back to the replay monitor and started watching it.

Sure enough, television replays confirmed it was a goal. Then TV showed the replay again. And again. Shepherd and Beaurline must have been watching a riveting hockey game on that monitor, because there's no way it took that long to review the goal and determine the correct time. There was some mumbo-jumbo in the press box that there was a problem with the video, but it seems convenient.

It was one of those moments where I would have really appreciated the officials having to crack open a mic and explain what the hell was going on. Of course, that makes too much sense to ever happen.

Ultimately, this sequence didn't adversely impact the outcome, because UMD responded to it well. That doesn't mean that NCHC officiating guru Don Adam shouldn't lob a call to UMD coach Scott Sandelin Saturday morning to apologize. No excuses, just admit that the guys didn't get it done and they'll all try their damndest to learn and be better next time. Keep it simple, eh?

After that Parks goal, UMD got mad and got a couple quick goals to tie it up at 2-2. On the first one, Alex Iafallo was checked into the crease while UND goalie Clarke Saunders went to try to play a puck outside the crease. As Saunders tried to get back, he stumbled, and a Dominic Toninato shot hit Iafallo and went across the line to make it 2-1. Adam Krause scored on a scramble play 20 seconds later to level.

UMD took a couple penalties, though, including a cross-check on Carson Soucy that led to the game-winning goal by Jordan Schmaltz. The Bulldogs also got nailed with a couple extremely ticky-tack hooking penalties in the final eight minutes, calls that were completely unnecessary and luckily harmless from a scoreboard perspective.


This brings me to the next point.

There were 18 minor penalties in the game, ten on UMD and eight on UND. As they got into the third period, Shepherd and Beaurline officiated like the game was spiraling out of control. The fact of the matter was that the closest we came to a major fracas was at 17:44 of the first period. Matching two-minute minors were called and life went on.

A huge beef for me over the years with officials has been what I perceive to be a lack of understanding of the game. I'm not just going to attack the guys we have here this weekend, because it's a common thread in college hockey. Either slightly chippy games like the one here on Friday get over-called because the officials are seeing things getting out of hand when they most certainly aren't, or they ignore everything and let the game get out of control.

In Friday's case, it was the former.

Hockey is a fast, emotional, physical game. Things will happen that are in violation of the rules, sometimes because the emotions are so dang high. But games like Friday's don't need to be over-officiated, because they never get close to being out of control. Want to see a game that got out of control? Look at this boxscore.

(In that particular game, post-whistle garbage was let go time and time again until things boiled over. Different officiating crew than what we have this weekend, but the same problem. No real basic idea of game flow, and they let things get out of hand before finally putting their feet down.)

Another complaint: How many times this season has UMD owned puck possession and shots on goal, only to somehow have more power plays against than for? I know we have a couple young guys who have taken dumb penalties along the way, but it's pretty hard to believe that the team chasing the puck a preponderance of the game is the one drawing all the penalties.

Anyway, I've written enough about the officials. Y'all don't pay to watch them work.


Can you tell some of us are frustrated with playing well here and losing? Going back to last season, UMD has now played 190 generally wonderful minutes of hockey at The Ralph, only to come away from it with just one league point, a tie last season.

It beats the hell out of what has been generally the only other way I've seen UMD play in Grand Forks, which is not very well. But it still sucks, and it's wearing on a few of us who work closely with this team but don't put on the skates.

I can't sit here and complain about very much that UMD did on Friday. I thought the forwards on the penalty kill did a lackluster job helping on a couple clearing opportunities, and the Bulldogs ended up paying dearly for that with the Schmaltz power play goal.

UMD was pretty good on the power play in limited opportunities. The Bulldogs have to find a way to stay out of the box. Six power plays against doesn't sound like a ton, especially when a couple were abbreviated, but it sounds like a ton when you only have three chances of your own.

Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo were dynamic at times in this game, and I really liked the fourth line when it got ice time. Cal Decowski continues to take hard hits to make even the littlest of plays, and he nearly set up Charlie Sampair for goals twice.

UMD blocked 23 shots Friday, including 11 in the first period. Corrin, a guy who hasn't played in a while in part because he hasn't been great at some of the little things, blocked a team-high six. Unfortunately, he was stuck in the net for a huge play in this game, as mentioned above.

The Bulldogs need a split here. This is the perfect time to be playing UND, as it is still trying to find itself in some ways. The high-end skill is there, but UND doesn't have the depth UMD at least thinks it has. That depth needs to come to the forefront for the Bulldogs.

If nothing else, for the sanity of certain people, including me.


When I got to the hotel Friday, I was greeted with an email from the NCAA. In said email was a statement from one of the rules gurus, former CCHA referee Steve Piotrowski. It was sent to clarify a rule about video replay. In part, the statement read:
In order to clarify the rules committee’s position, effective immediately, only games that are being televised (e.g., national/regional network, cable, or recognized broadcast entity) are allowed to be used. Therefore, any in-house camera feeds or video that is being produced for an internet streaming broadcast are no longer allowed for this video review purpose.
This didn't make a lot of sense to me for a couple reasons. For starters, the rule is dumb, and I'll outline that in a second. Also, why was it being sent out? Something must have happened, but no one I mentioned the statement to at the arena was aware of anything.

Thanks to some sleuthing from College Hockey News, we know.
After it appeared UMass tied the game in the third period, Boston College head coach Jerry York called a timeout and asked for the play to be reviewed. After the review, the goal was called back for a UMass player being offsides, however, according to NCAA rules, officials may only review offsides during televised games.

Boston College went on to win the game, 2-1.

"There is a little bit of confusion based on how the rule is worded," said (Hockey East commissioner Joe) Bertagna ... "We can go up and look at and review a bunch of things. ... Offsides and too many men on the ice are not traditionally things you can review. In the current two-year rulebook, it says in championship play, you can review offsides and too many men on the ice. Well, over the summer, the NCAA decided to expand that to any televised games, but it did not really define what it meant by televised games."

Thursday's game was not broadcasted on television, but a webcast was available through the internet.
So in other words, if a rinky-dink cable network somewhere -- a "recognized broadcast entity" -- is airing a college hockey game with two or three crappy cameras and primitive replay equipment, that can be used for video review purposes. But NBC Live Extra's multi-camera, high-quality Notre Dame webcasts can't be.


Extreme examples, yes. But this rule is dumb. If the cameras and technology exist to properly look at a play like that, do it. Shouldn't matter what those cameras are at the game for. The purpose here should be to get calls right, not confuse everyone and make dumb rules.

Bertagna went on to say that his officials erred in reviewing that UMass goal after being asked to by York. Sound familiar?

(Ah, there I go again.)


In the NCHC Friday, Denver rallied from 2-0 down to beat Western Michigan 5-3 in Denver. Trevor Moore lit the lamp twice for DU, while Sam Brittain outgoaltended Frank Slubowski. Non-conference, Miami got another Ryan McKay shutout to beat Wisconsin 2-0. UNO got two in the third, including the scorching Josh Archibald's ninth of the year, to upend Michigan 3-2. Also, St. Cloud State edged past Alabama Huntsville 10-0.

(Prediction: Whoever loses to UAH this season will not make the NCAA Tournament.)


One last thing: UMD's series against Minnesota is listed as Friday/Saturday, but those of you who have tickets to Saturday's game should pay close attention to college football. Why? Because the to-be-determined start time of next week's Wisconsin-Minnesota football game will determine the start time -- and possibly day -- of next Saturday's UMD-Minnesota game.

TV rules the world, after all. Oh, and TCF Bank Stadium was built on what used to be a parking lot for Mariucci Arena. When a football game is happening, there is almost literally nowhere to park on campus. They simply can't cram 50,000 in there for a big football and and almost simultaneously have 10,000 at Mariucci for hockey.

If the B1G decides that Wisconsin-Minnesota will start at 11am, then our game next Saturday will shift to an 8pm start. If the football game is placed in the 2:30pm time slot, we won't play Saturday, and instead will play Sunday at 4pm.

So keep that in mind if you have tickets for "Saturday" or plan to get them.

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