Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Controversial Calls, Slow Second Period Start Sink UMD in Denver

DENVER -- I'd like to think I've been nice to our officials this season. At least the NCHC ones. This blog -- after the absolutely controversial 3-2 loss to Miami on Halloween night -- is the closest I've come to even being something less than diplomatic.

I'll try to keep that from changing on this night/morning.

UMD fell 3-2 here to the Denver Pioneers on Friday. It was an entertaining game, as expected, and UMD was sunk by a poor start over the first five minutes of the second period. Goals by Quentin Shore and Joey LaLeggia forced UMD coach Scott Sandelin to burn his timeout. The Bulldogs played better after that, but Karson Kuhlman's second-period goal was as close as UMD would get.

(The start to the game wasn't much better. Dominic Toninato took a goalie interference penalty at the 22-second mark, and Daniel Doremus scored from a bad angle seven seconds later.)

The Bulldogs were predictably unhappy after the game, though, and it wasn't because of that poor start to the middle frame.

Instead, UMD was left fuming over a somewhat controversial major penalty that was called against captain Adam Krause for interference with eight minutes left in the third period.

Krause hit Denver's Matt Tabrum while it appeared he (Krause, that is) was heading off for a change. I'll let you read Krause's version of the events, as told to the Duluth News Tribune.
"He stepped in front of me to try and draw a penalty. He went down like I hit him with a hammer in the head and that’s just the way it is.

“You can’t hide from guys who dive like that. I put a shoulder into him, he saw me coming, he tried to block me from getting to the bench and he went down.”
I can't say it any better.

Officials make mistakes. No matter how good they are, they are human. It happens.

And this one takes the cake so far this season. Here's a tweeted photo of the contact. There's barely any. If you watch the whole sequence over again, it crystallizes Krause's version. Tabrum looks to get in Krause's way on purpose. These guys aren't stupid. He knows Krause is going for a change. Everyone in the building knows Krause is going for a change. Tabrum gets in the way anyway, with the likely intent of drawing a penalty. When he goes down, he acts like he was hit in the head, comes off the ice slowly, and the officials overreact to that apparent injury and call a major penalty.

(Krause had a goal disallowed in the first period because, I think, the officials couldn't visually confirm the puck crossed the goal line. I have not yet seen a high-quality replay of this, but when I called it live, I reacted to what I saw, which was the puck crossing the goal line. I was sitting maybe six feet from the Root Sports main camera, so if I saw that, I find it hard to believe the TV replay didn't show the puck across the goal line. Then again, I'm in Colorado, so maybe I ate some brownies or something.)

(I can't tell you with certainty why that goal didn't count, because I couldn't hear the public address announcer tell the fans what the ruling was. That's a whole different rant. At some point, someone has to devise a system that makes it easier and more efficient to communicate referee decisions off replay reviews. "Have the PA guy relay it" is just not good enough, especially when a broadcaster is on the air and working alone. Sometimes, it's impossible to hear the announcement.)

UMD killed the major, thanks to a goal that was disallowed by a video review that showed goalie interference by Denver. The Bulldogs got Kasimir Kaskisuo off with 90 seconds left but couldn't equalize.

For UMD, plenty of guys played well. Cal Decowski's line with Justin Crandall and Kyle Osterberg produced a goal and had a very good night. I thought Willie Corrin (six shots, assist, plus-two) had a strong game. Tony Cameranesi's line was good again. Austin Farley helped Corrin set up Kuhlman for that second-period tally.

Just wasn't enough on Friday.

The slow start to the second killed the Bulldogs. It was inexplicable, too, because UMD had a very strong last ten minutes of the first. I don't know why, but that just didn't carry over. Maybe the guys assumed it would without them doing anything to make it? I don't know. It's frustrating, though, because these sloppy stretches have cost UMD too many games already. The Bulldogs simply have to find a way to stop starting slowly, whether it's the first period, the second, or the third. It can't happen anymore.


I do try not to make this a "rag on the refs" bit. We've discussed the difficulties of officiating at this level before. The athletes aren't getting smaller or slower, and as the speed picks up, so do the intensity and the emotion. It's a tough mix for officials, because it takes such a strong combination of smarts, vision, positioning, and hockey instinct to do the job at a high level.

They weren't good enough on Friday. I get that UMD has a reputation for some hits this season that have been over the line. But Krause hadn't been guilty of any of them, and is not regarded as a dirty player.

(At least, he better not be.)

This is why reputations are dangerous. They're human nature, but they're dangerous, because they can lead people to see things that aren't there. What Krause did Friday was probably not a penalty at all, because it was so obvious Tabrum was going out of his way to create the contact. To call it a major is just unacceptable.

It didn't cost UMD this game by any means, but that doesn't make it less frustrating.


Omaha had a five-on-three in overtime and got a goal from Austin Ortega on said man advantage to beat North Dakota 3-2. That came after Drake Caggiula tied the score 2-2 with less than a minute to play on a UND power play. Omaha holds on to first place, now by four points over UND and seven over UMD.

St. Cloud State walloped Colorado College 7-1. The Huskies led 7-0 before the second period was over. Kalle Kossila had four points, and a bunch of other guys had three, led by Jonny Brodzinski, who scored twice. The Huskies move back ahead of Western Michigan for sixth place, but the Broncos now have a game in hand.

(Western, by the way, hosts Miami Saturday, then meets the RedHawks next weekend at Soldier Field in the Hockey City Classic.)

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