In quite possibly one of the more bizarre uses of instant replay I've seen, Michigan defeated UNO 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament in overtime. One of the cardinal rules of instant replay over the years, no matter what the sport, is that the replay call be indisputable. Instant replay is designed to correct instances where an official has clearly made an error, whether it's baseball, football, or hockey. That wasn't the case tonight. Tonight's game-ending decision wasn't indisputable by any means.
In overtime, Michigan's Kevin Lynch shot the puck at John Faulkner, who deflected the puck at Alex Hudson, who in turn deflected it back at Faulkner. The puck disappeared under Faulkner's leg, and reemerged a few seconds later. Replay after replay showed the puck going under Faulkner and disappearing until ESPN used a low camera from the other end of the ice that showed the puck under the leg.
Was the puck over the goal line? Probably. But "probably" isn't reason to overturn the officials call. The official never called the goal, and play continued to the other end of the ice. Probably has never been an acceptable level of evidence to overturn a call.
Certainly not a game in overtime.
Certainly not in a playoff game, especially one in the national tournament that means the end of the season for the loser.
But that's just what referees Harry Dumas (no I didn't make that up; that's his name) and Chip McDonald did tonight in St. Louis. They spent nearly ten minutes looking at replay after replay and awared Michigan the victory.
Tragic way to end a pretty darn good hockey game. I missed the first half of the game due to work, but there was good action at both ends. UNO nearly won it earlier in overtime when Michigan's Jon Merrill deflected away a shot by Brock Montpetit at an open net about a minute and a half earlier. UNO certainly played like they belonged in the Big Skate, but in the end, the officials decided to call the game in favor of Michigan.
It would be easy to dismiss this as sour grapes from the fan on the losing end. Except everywhere you look (except the great state of Michigan, of course), hockey people everywhere realize that UNO got hozed.
It is what it is. A bitter defeat for a UNO squad that took their game to another level this season. And what a season it was. Being ranked in the top five in the nation in November. Sweeping Minnesota on the road, and splitting with North Dakota in some of the more epic games we'll remember. Drawing over 15,000 fans to a game against Wisconsin. Lots of things that once the bitter pill of tonight's decision fades, we'll remember and look forward to next season. A squad with an impressive level of young talent.
The future is very bright for UNO hockey right now, no matter how the season ended.