Hockey Banter, Week III, Part II: The Play Of The Year

Graham Beck, BC Heights Sports

In Part II, we take a look at an early candidate for play of the year, and talk (make fun of?) Northeastern.

Continuing on from yesterday's Part I...

Joseph Gravellese: Shall we discuss the McCoshen play?

Grant Salzano: Oh we shall.

JG: First, let's go to the GIF again. Because it's worth watching, repeatedly.

GS: Whoa.

JG: I think that ultimately, you just need to acknowledge that based on the letter of the law, there's nothing the third baseman could have done. He was in the way, so it was obstruction, even if it was unintentional, and even though it sucked.

Wait.

What?

Right.

This feels like it was a long time ago.

I think two things about the McCoshen play:

1) It should have been a penalty shot.
2) It was an absolutely phenomenal play, the 100% right play to make, because not only might you get away with it like he did, even if you give up a penalty shot, that's a lot better than giving up a game-winning goal.

GS: Number two I obviously agree with. Number one, I don't. I think it was a legal play, and there are a couple reasons why.

First, I think the fact that the puck is in the air matters. This isn't a case of McCoshen trying to hold or freeze the puck. His intent is clearly to whip it out.

Now I realize that closing your hand on the puck in the crease will qualify as freezing. But I just don't think that he was trying to close his hand.

I haven't played hockey very much -- a pickup game here and there -- so I realize I'm not exactly Alex Carpenter trying to give hockey experience examples, but even as an inexperienced player it's already pretty ingrained in your head not to grab the puck. You "cup" it and do whatever you need to do. It's almost a reflex, that "cup" grip.

And that's exactly what I think McCoshen did. I think he cupped it in his hand(s?) and flung it behind him.

And secondly: On your average play, there is a lot of leeway that the refs give in what constitutes "closing your hand on the puck." I've seen way more obvious examples let go.

JG: That's perfectly reasonable. Honestly it just looked to me like he closed his hand on it. The video evidence wasn't conclusive, but that's what it looked like to me, moreso than pawing it down like a high puck at the blue line or something.

GS: In the NHL Rulebook -- and I'm guessing college has a similar rule -- Rule 67.2 states "A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed." It sure looked to me that he caught it and immediately flung it. He certainly didn't skate with it.

JG: Well, that's interesting. In my head, if you actually "catch" the puck, rather than paw it down or swat at it, that should be the same thing as closing your hand on it. If anyone knows the specifics of the college rule, I'd love to hear it.

GS: Funny you say that. I just a found the college hockey rulebook, and the rule is worded pretty much exactly the same as the NHL.

Rule 6, Section 19.a: "A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place or knock it down to the ice. A player shall not catch the puck and skate with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over an opponent."

So there you go.

JG: Alrighty then.

Owned.

What have I learned this weekend? Professional officials who study the rulebook for a living probably understand its nuances better than I do.

Crazy talk!

GS: Insanity!

JG: Either way, a great play to preserve the 3-3 score.

And extraordinarily heady.

Before I forget: Michael Sit, trolling all of us with 3 goals in 2 games. Troll on, my friend. Next up will be Billett shutting out Northeastern at Matthews on Saturday. I'm fine with being a reverse jinx.

GS: Holy Sit! Nice to finally see him get a goal. And then another goal and another goal.

"Holy Sit" is very witty and original and funny, by the way.

JG: Okay, I'll keep that in mind for future headlines.

So let's touch on a couple of things, really quickly, to crystallize what has been a pretty good conversation. First, the big picture; second, Northeastern.

In terms of the big picture: after the Wisconsin game, the thinking was sort of "we not only have a good young team, we might have a team that's already scary good, ahead of schedule." My comment in last week's Banter was that if we split out in Minnesota, it would keep up that level of optimism.

We came up short of the split, obviously. But I think my opinion about this team is still that they're very good, very deep, and should easily be one of the best teams in the league by the end of the season. This meat-grinder of a schedule is only going to make them tougher.

If this weekend did anything to worry me long-term, it's that I guess we need to wonder if away games are going to be a challenge, since both of our wins have come at home (but really, kind of an unfair comparison given the venues they've played at... but the next two away games are Matthews and Agganis, so the beat goes on).

GS: I think it still comes down to inexperience. That will fix itself.

Nice to get the little road RPI bonus, anyway.

JG: And now on to Northeastern, really quickly. And we'll have more to say about this matchup in Final Thoughts later in the week. But to put it bluntly, I don't put much stock in Northeastern as a "ranked team" with their most impressive weekend being a split at St. Lawrence.

At the end of the day I still expect them to be down by the bottom of the Hockey East standings and I expect to see BC pick up a comfortable win against a team like that at home.

Going TO Northeastern is always a different story, because weird things always seem to happen there.

GS: Not sure how or why, but it's true.

Yeah, they're just not good. It's funny seeing them ranked though. Very Northeastern of them to give their fans false hope.

They've played pretty much the opposite schedule as us as far as difficulty is concerned.

JG: Indeed.

Also worth noting is that Cody Ferriero will be suspended for this series for some manner of roughhousing against St. Lawrence last weekend.

GS: Ha. Too bad it's not Roy though. Oh well.

I guess that about wraps it up for this week.

JG: Beat NU.

GS: Yes, sir. Beat NU.

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