What. The hell. Was that?
I freely admit that I bitch about the officiating a lot. But I try my hardest to at least be somewhat balanced. If the officiating sucks and we win, I'll complain as much as I do when it sucks and we lose. If it sucks both ways (see the game at Munn earlier in the year), I'll call them out. I'll even freely admit it when we get a huge break on a call (though I'll admit my blue-colored glasses sometimes cloud my judgement on those). Usually it's not the main focus of my post. Usually you don't have two calls that incorrectly award/disallow goals. Sadly, tonight we did.
Early in the third period, I actually praised the officiating in my notes. Yes, the Maday goal was inexcusably allowed. But aside from that (and a missed hit from behind yesterday) I thought they were doing a good job. And hell, one screwed up goal in a weekend? That's not so bad for the CCHA, all things considered. At least they were letting two great hockey teams play hockey, and not turning it into a special teams battle like so many other guys just have to do. Even with the disaster this game turned out to be, I do appreciate that the teams were allowed to play.
And yet I concluded the night by having a slightly more profane reaction than the one above.
For those of you who didn't have the privilege of watching the CCHA officials ruin yet another series, a recap:
In the first period, Tim Miller has a horrible giveaway. The puck goes onto the stick of Ridderwall who makes a very nice feed to Maday. Maday kicks the puck into the net. Four officials looked at it, several with unobstructed views. Four officials thought to themselves, "Yeah, that was a good goal." Travis Turnbull, who was out by the blueline, looking through a screen, immediately started signaling that the puck was kicked in. But the refs had already called it a good goal, so the replay had to be conclusive to overturn it. No problem. There are 4 camera angles showing the guy kicking it in at best, directing it in (still illegal) at worst. But, oh wait, he was by the faceoff circle when he kicked it in. The asinine replay rules only allow for the overhead camera to be shown to the official, because God-forbid we use everything at our disposal to, ya know, make sure the calls are right. So Brian Aaron went into the penalty box and was shown a lovely shot of the puck going in the net, with no indication as to how it got there, because they weren't in the frame. Goal.
Notre Dame goes up 3-0. Michigan mounts a comeback and gets it to 3-2. With like 30 seconds left, there's a goalmouth scramble. The puck sneaks out to the side of Jordan Pearce and Steve Kampfer bangs it in. Tie game. Not so fast, my friend. They go to the review and rule that the net was off the moorings. It wasn't. I assumed the ruling was that the whistle had blown. And if it had, I'm pissed off and I'm asking how John Philo lost sight of the puck when he was standing all of two feet away from it, but it's at least understandable. Brian Aaron blew at least 3 plays dead prematurely tonight. It happens. But don't make shit up. Your official was standing right there. He didn't blow the play dead for the net being off. No replay shows the net being off. The overhead cam sure as shit didn't show the net being off. To make matters even better, Alton pointed out at MGoBlog that Brian Aaron appears to have been the official that blew the play dead. Not the guy who was standing right over the puck. The guy out by the blueline. (Note that Aaron was the one who went into the replay "booth" to review it.) Good thing we've got two refs. That really makes the game better, right? No goal. Notre Dame wins, and we're all but eliminated from contention for the CCHA title.
This is what happens when you hire stupid people. Steve Piotrowski. Please listen to me and listen to me good. You need to put the skates back on. It needs to happen. We watched Brian Hill butcher the series with Miami down in Oxford, we watched Sergott and Hall lose control of the MSU series and play a role in Kampfer getting attacked, McInchak and Aaron were laughable in the first series with MSU (remember how much of a joke that game at Munn was?), now you've got a crucial series between two of the best teams the conference has to offer and Brian Aaron is the best official you can come up with? Are you kidding me? If he's the best guy around, Steve, you're doing the conference a disservice by not being out there. I may not have always been in love with the games you'd call, but I never would worry that a series or a game would get butchered like this one did, or that the game would get completely out of hand like the MSU game last week. You're 100 times better for the conference being on the ice rather than in a suit. Get it done. Or at least find some officials that aren't complete numskulls.
Not a whole lot of exciting stuff in the first period. Wohlberg and Lebler both got poke-checked by Pearce on rushes. They should file it away that he really likes doing that. That was at least 4 this weekend.
Hogan made a few nice stops, including a couple on Condra--one when Condra absolutely walked Burlon.
Notre Dame went up 2-0 on a penalty shot goal by Thang. He got behind Kampfer, ND hit on the pass, and Kampfer had to grab him. On the shot, Thang made a beautiful shot fake, Hogan thought about going for the poke-check but never fully committed to it, and Thang was able to go top shelf.
Not too much later it was 3-0. That was a gorgeous feed from Deeth to Ridderwall, who is becoming a real dagger in our side.
Summers had a fantastic defensive play to prevent a scoring chance late in the period. A pass got through Langlais's legs, but Summers got back, dove, and swept the puck away without taking out Hanson's legs and committing a penalty.
At the end of 2, we were down 3-0 but outshooting them 24-19.
The third was all Michigan. At one point late, we were outshooting them 10-3 and had a 9-1 lead in scoring chances.
Michigan made it 3-1 off a possession created by an offensive zone faceoff win. Lebler caused some havoc in front, and prevented Pearce from covering the puck. Palushaj dug it out and shot it in.
Robbie Czarnik finally got on the board again with a pretty power play goal. He fed it to Palushaj and shot down the wing. Palushaj put a perfect pass back to Czarnik, who buried it as he was falling down. It was hard to tell if the team was more excited to be back in the game, or more excited that Czarnik scored. They were going bonkers after that one.
Palushaj darn near set up another goal. He brought it into the zone 3 on 2. The defenseman on the left initially went with Hagelin but Palushaj carried it in far enough that he had to commit to Palushaj. When he did, Palushaj fed Hagelin who looked cross-crease for Rust, but the pass didn't connect.
We then got offsetting penalties because Rust was pushed into the goalie and Pearce took a massive dive. Makes sense to me. #1, Rust was pushed into the crease. #2, he barely touched Pearce. #3, Pearce went down like he was shot. Have some balls and just call the embellishment. You wouldn't have called Rust for that if Pearce didn't go down like a soccer player, so why call it just because the goalie flopped like a fish?
Czarnik then had a couple of great chances to tie the game. On the first one, one of ND's defensemen tied his stick up, but on the next chance, he fanned with a wide-open net. Ugh. The play came back in front and Miller had an empty net to shoot at, but he was well tied up by the defense and couldn't get a stick on it.
Michigan pulled the goalie with a minute left and appeared to score the tying goal but evidently the net was off. Or Brian Aaron is just an imbecile. I'm going with the latter.
Red wasn't mincing words after the game:
"I'm not here to discuss the officiating, but this was a big series, and obviously you want top officials here, but they were two great college hockey games. There's not much to choose between the teams. They've had a great season and to go unbeaten for 20 games is just unbelievable and that was going to come to an end. If we wanted to make a run at first place, we had to win this game tonight. "That's ok Red, I'm perfectly fine discussing the officiating. And they were terrible. Two inexcusable calls resulting in one good goal being waived off, and one illegal goal counting.
As for Maday's goal:
The one went in off his foot, the camera couldn't see it. If it would have been reviewable, it would not have been a goal.
The other way that I could have not been called a goal would have been if there was one competent official in the entire bunch. But that might be asking a little much for the CCHA. I always used to joke that when Brian Aaron was reffing, we might as well start down a goal because he was guaranteed to waive one of ours off. He did us one better tonight.
The officials pretty much ruined what was otherwise a really good hockey game. Notre Dame is a really great defensive team. That group of blueliners they've got is just stellar. They did a nice job of keeping Michigan to the outside and allowing only low-percentage looks in the first two periods. We had a couple of chances, but by and large most of our 24 shots on net through two weren't of the high-quality variety.
Those are two pretty evenly matched hockey teams. I'm a homer, but I think we're a little bit better than them, especially if we get Mark Mitera back, as it appears we're going to. With Mitera, Kampfer, Summers, and Burlon, we're every bit as good on the blueline as them. And that doesn't even mention any of the other guys, like Langlais who has been very solid this season (though I thought he struggled tonight).
Czarnik was flying again tonight, and it was great to see him put one in. Even though he missed an empty net later in the game, that goal really could get him going. He's been putting himself in good areas, maybe now the pucks will start going in for him. I also thought Lebler did some good things in the corners tonight.
It was also nice to see the power play finally click. We were 2-3 on the night with 7 shots on goal. ND has a good penalty kill and we were able to cash in twice. It'd be huge if those units could heat up a little bit.
Another really strong night from the fourth line. Fardig was just awesome and Glendening absolutely planted Minella when he jumped to glove down a puck.
One last highlight was the hit that Pateryn laid on an Irish player behind the Michigan net which led to a pretty nice rush for the Wolverines.
I don't think this will be the last we see of the Irish this year. I could easily see two more meetings taking place. The college hockey world would be lucky to see these teams meet twice more, because those were two darn entertaining hockey games between two great teams this weekend. Hopefully if we meet in the future, the teams will actually get to decide the outcome. That's a good, good hockey team right there. If it had stayed 3-0, I would've had no problem tipping my cap to them, saying "We'll probably see ya again. Great weekend of hockey!" and moving on to LSSU. But damn...those calls overshadowed an otherwise excellent series.
I don't understand why the officials are only allowed to look at the overhead camera. I get that not every game is on TV and not every team can afford to have multiple camera angles. But is the goal to have a system that is uniformly dysfunctional or is the goal to get calls correct? Isn't getting calls correct the whole point of replay? If the technology is there, why not use it? The current system doesn't allow for the review of pucks being batted in with a high stick. It doesn't allow for review of goals when the player happened to be more than 3 feet outside the crease. There were multiple camera angles that showed Maday's goal shouldn't have counted. But the ref wasn't allowed to look at any of them. That seems really stupid to me. Use what's available. I don't care if it's not uniform.
Lastly, I know some people were saying that the commentary seemed to favor Notre Dame (I didn't notice that, but then, they were also up 3-0 for awhile, so it probably should have) but I love listening to Dan Dickerson call hockey games. I think I commented on that the last time we had him as well. He's a great play by play guy. I could definitely stand for more of him.
Next up is LSSU, who will be fresh off their sweep of FYS.