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Hockey Banter, Week VI: Donning The Tinfoil Hats

Maybe we're just crazy, I don't know.

via ArdeeSN

Joseph Gravellese: It kind of got lost in the happy-happy-joy-joy of football gaining bowl eligibility, but Friday night was a very tense one at Conte Forum. In some respects, you feel like, as a BC fan, they should have won that game.

On the flip side, you could look at UMass's dominance in the third period and OT, plus Billett's outstanding performance, and you could say we were lucky to escape with the point. It was a weird one for sure.

But what mostly defined the home-and-home for the Eagles -- in which BC went 1-0-1, so let's remember that it was successful -- was controversy. Lots and lots of controversy. So let's talk about it piece by piece.

The UMass goal/no goal/oops situation. What a total cluster that was. Lots of things to discuss.

As you can clearly see, UMass is egregiously offsides here. They had two players offsides. This isn't disputable. Not even the drunkest, highest UMass homer on planet earth could dispute that this was offsides. So let's get that perfectly clear right off the bat: the linesmen blew the call on the ice.

With that out of the way, let's move to what happened next. Jerry York calls a timeout, flips to a page in his notebook, and calmly lets the officials know that they blew that one and might want to take a look at it.

They go to review, correctly see that UMass was offsides, and overturn the goal.

BC had picked up a penalty on the play, which the refs kept on the board, so UMass had a 5-on-3 from there but BC killed it (they killed all 8 UMass PP's on the night) and escaped with the win, while UMass fans got ragey.

There was an awful lot of confusion about whether that was a reviewable play. I honestly didn't think it was. I'd never heard of it being reviewable before. But people started posting things showing that such plays were now reviewable, even linking to a precedent where a goal was overturned in a 'Mack-UNH game. So it seems like the case is closed.

Then Hockey East does a "whoops, my bad," and says that play shouldn't have been reviewable, because that play is only reviewable if a game is televised. The two mistakes were 1) the officials need to call for reviews -- a team can't request it, and 2) the play wasn't reviewable.

Okay. Lots to unpack here. I'll let you get some words in here, because I have a lot more to say and my intro is already tl;dr.

Grant Salzano: The thing that really got me was that in their media release, they basically say they screwed up twice, but don't even acknowledge the fact that it was offsides in the first place. As if getting the call right wasn't even a care.

It was a very Hockey East thing to do.

JG: Yeah. I was trying to make a mental list of all of the things wrong with that release. The most glaring thing is obviously not acknowledging that they missed the call in the first place. I mean, for once, Hockey East refs lucked their way into making the right call. That doesn't happen very often, so you should probably take that and celebrate it.

GS: Aside from that... the whole "it's only reviewable when it's on TV" thing is GARBAGE.

How could you POSSIBLY make that rule when you KNOW it affects certain teams more than others? Elephant in the room: Notre Dame has EVERY home game televised.

JG: I didn't even think of that aspect of it. But what's crazy to me -- and I know, the rule is the rule, but now I'm complaining about the rule, and not the release -- is that "Aggievision" would count as TV, but GoNUXStream, in crystal clear HD, would not.

Merrimack's "sent from my iphone" broadcasts on WBIN? "TV."

Providence's professionally done online broadcasts on Cox's website? Nope.

That... is just an asinine rule.

GS: And let's be clear -- they already said it has to be "glaring." So clearly lo-def would have nothing to do with it.

JG: Which is another stupid element of the release. So it has to be "glaring" in order to be reviewed. What counts as glaring? If someone is offsides, they're offsides.

If it's close, and the play is reviewable, it should be reviewed.

It doesn't need to be a "glaring" goaltender interference in order for goals to be overturned for that reason (another topic that we will get into shortly). Someone is either offsides, or they're not.

Moving along, though:

It's bizarre that with all of the blown calls they never talk about, this one (where they got it right!) gets the "oops" treatment. I'm sure Lowell fans are still waiting for their rules clarification on why they got robbed of a goal in the 2009 conference final (among other egregious errors in big games).

But it gets worse, honestly. The more I look back at the play, the more I realized the refs probably botched even more things. Since they called it a goal, the clock should have been wound back to when the play was ruled dead (it wasn't). And the BC penalty probably should have been negated. I am not 100% sure about this, so maybe you might know the rule better, but technically that whole sequence after the offsides should never have happened.

No clarification was given on any of that, which was one of the biggest sources of confusion.

GS: I was fairly certain that the penalty should have been negated as well -- though the UMass radio announcers seemed to think that because it was a slashing call, that's a penalty whether the whistle is blown or not.

Honestly though... the fact that no one seems to have a clue what's going on is the biggest concern.

And that was just the start of the weekend!

JG: Indeed!

We talk all the time about Hockey East refs "over-officiating." So I guess you don't really need to be wearing a tinfoil hat to be annoyed at the disallowed BC goal in the first period on Friday night.

There's Billy Arnold, standing in front of the crease, screening the goalie. Not in the crease. Not initiating contact with the goalie in any way.

Pretty much just standing there.

And the goal is waved off.

I do not want to go down tinfoil hat territory because if there's one thing we know about Hockey East refs it's that they don't need an excuse to wave off a goal against anyone. (Just ask UMass the night before.) It's probably their favorite thing to do, even when there's no logical reason to do so. So maybe it wasn't a blatant makeup call.

But, my goodness, was the timing obnoxious.

GS: Yes, it was.

JG: Can you even begin to fathom what rule Arnold was breaking there?

GS: I wasn't at the game, but I heard someone say that the explanation given for the no goal was something other than a straight "goaltender interference," but rather something like "goaltender's right to position" or something.

Do you remember what you heard?

JG: I do. the PA announcement was "the goaltender was not given the opportunity to make the save." Something along those lines.

GS: What the Actual Christ does that mean?

JG: And now, we've been down this road before, and I know that the skater doesn't need to initiate the contact in order for the refs to deem that the goalie wasn't given a chance to make the save. I.E., if someone is out on front of the crease and the goalie comes out to try to make a save and is interefered with, it's still interference, according to my understanding of the rule. (An interpretation that I totally dislike, but c'est la vie).

But that's not what happened here. Arnold was screening the goalie, in front of the crease. Haight was at the top of his crease, not impeded by Arnold at all. He didn't appear to try to come out of the crease and cut down the angle. He was in his position to try to make the stop, but he didn't.

Terrible call.

I'm not accusing Hockey East of telling the refs to find some reason to disallow the first goal. But if you wanted to make that accusation, I'd be okay with it.

GS: That pretty well sums it up.

Surely that was the last of the controversial calls for the weekend?


This was more garden-variety Hockey East officiating, rather than anything odd or potentially shady. I think Hockey East refs probably make this call 9 times out of 10 (at least for the 5+game, but maybe not the DQ) when someone gets hit this hard and is down for that long.

But it was, as these things often are, questionable. And it harkens back to incidents with Petrecki and Matheson where you wonder what NHL-caliber defensemen are getting out of playing in a league where hard hits are usually penalized harshly. (That's not to say any of those guys haven't crossed the line on occasion.)

Sir Jerry of York thinks it was a clean hit, upon review of the replay. I guess you could say he came in on him on a bit of a weird angle, and... yeah, I mean, I don't know, man. That looks like a good open-ice hit. It was called "excessive roughness," so literally the problem was that he hit him too hard. Which, if that's a rule, that's going to be a really hard rule to enforce.

GS: My question is -- *IS* that a rule?

JG: The only reference Google finds to '"excessive roughness" hockey' (other than articles about Santini) is this listing in the British ice hockey league rulebook:

Any player who commits an action not permitted by the rules that may cause or causes an injury to an opponent, to a team or game official shall be assessed a: Match penalty

The circumstances shall be reported to the: Proper Authorities.


Does it really say that?

JG: Yes.

And for what it's worth, the only incident I can find where it was called was a vicious assault in which a player sparked a line brawl, was suspended for 47 games and was, in fact, reported to the Proper Authorities.

Hmm.. further Googling finds something in what appears to be the 2004 college hockey rulebook:

Excessive Roughness

SECTION 13. A player shall not commit an action not permitted by the rules that may cause or causes an injury to an opponent, to team personnel or to a game official.

PENALTY—Disqualification. HR-57 RULE 6-13/PLAYING RULES

So, it's a real rule.

And, it should be noted, based on the rule, "hitting someone too hard" wouldn't be a penalty, it would have to be an illegal hit. So the refs determined it to be an illegal hit, I guess.

GS: But what was illegal about it, is the question. Also, the other guy wasn't injured.

JG: You could say the player was kind of vulnerable, I guess? In the sense that we are vulnerable collections of matter living on a rock floating around a star.

GS: At least if there was something illegal about it, call whatever is illegal.

Make up a bogus "contact to the head" if you didn't see it.

JG: You could make the (bad) argument looking at the replay that it was somewhat of a blindside collision? Except it wasn't. I don't know, man. It was just a headscratcher.

And now Santini has a "reputation."

So expect more of this.

BC should be fine with him out and Doherty in against Harvard, but the Eagles sure could use him on Saturday night in Maine. That's a tough one. But that's the way it goes, I guess.

If someone sees something different from me on these GIFs, please let me know. I don't want to be a raging homer. I really do feel like I'm just looking at the video and seeing a hit that makes the NHL top 10 plays of the year list. And I really do feel like I'm looking at Arnold basically just screening the goalie and not touching him on the disallowed goal.

Certainly, if you see something other than that, let me know. This goes out to anyone. If there are neutrals out there reading this... let me know what you think.

GS: We like to be shown to be wrong on occasion.

It doesn't happen often but we like when people try.

JG: Us? Wrong? Unpossible! (Please don't look back at my predictions. Or my NCAA tournament bracket. Please and thank you.)

Anyway, quick turnaround and on to Harvard on Wednesday. A win there and BC is 8-2-2. I can live with that. So Eagles, let's just hope we don't have to hear "10,000 Men of Harvard" any more than is absolutely necessary, kay?

GS: I hate that Goddamn song.

JG: bum bumm CHHHH bum bum CHHHH bum da-daddadadum dum CHHH





JG: I bet it's stuck in your head now.

GS: It is, so you'd better sleep with one eye open.