Friday, March 25, 2011

Officials Award Michigan Victory in Overtime Over Mavs

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.

Unfrickin believable.

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.


Randy said...

I like Dean Blaise and it is unfortunate that his team lost. But, he still has his program. What he needs to be mindful of that if he begins winning national championships at UNO his program may suffer or even be dropped. Particularly once Mr. Alberts removes Coach Denney from his speed-dial.

Husker Mike said...

That's insane. It's unfortunate what happened to the wrestling program, but the bottom line is that hockey is, at worst, a break-even proposition, and going forward, is going to help fund the other sports at UNO to some extent. Wrestling is, at it's core, a money loser, and with the needs of competing in the Summit League, isn't viable going forward.

Husker Mike said...

Oh, and welcome to the Michigan fans who are celebrating their Zapruder goal and claiming indignation that UNO fans (and the rest of the hockey world) don't accept it.

What your "hi-def" mega-pixelatted images shot from Kansas City don't show is whether the puck is on the ice at that point.

In other words, not indisputable, not conclusive. Probably a goal is not a goal.

Jack said...
I saw that, live, and immediately knew it was past the line, and thus, a good goal. That the refs took 10 minutes to decide what I could recognize immediately is the bigger sham.

Husker Mike said...

Like I said, where's your indisputable evidence that the puck is on the ice at that point rather than hovering over the line?

Don't have that?

It's inconclusive. "Probably" is not a goal.

Jerome said...

There's no indignation from this Michigan fan, that was definitely an unusual way for the game to end. I feel for the Maverick fans out there, I know I'd hate it if Michigan went out like that. We felt a similar sting last year in the regional finals against Miami of Ohio. One difference, however, is that yesterday's call was (conclusively) correct.

Of course that sounds very convenient, but I'm not the type of fan that will excuse away losses and validate wins through the officiating. Michigan should probably have been down a man for 5 minutes instead of 2 in OT after that board by Matt Rust. The rest of the game (that I was able to see... gee, thanks "ESPN3") seemed pretty even. The last goal was definitely a goal, however.

Due to the crappy live stream quality I couldn't tell at the time all whether or not it was a goal. The "mega-pixellated" images got me thinking it was probably a goal, watching this video in 780p provided incontrovertible proof:

The puck is clearly in the net, there is visible separation between the puck and the goal line. It clearly does not leave the ice. There is no "probably", it was definitely a goal.

You claim the standard for overturning a call is indisputable evidence in your post. Later in your comments you switch to conclusive, so you must be aware that the rules (available at clearly calls for conclusive video. The word "indisputable" isn't used once in the rule book. That's a lower burden of proof than you make it out to be, but mostly semantic in this case since the evidence is clear.

By the way, I know you didn't bring this up, but some people are claiming that only the overhead angle is allowed to be used for replays. That is not true. According to the rule book, "[a]ll potential replay angles will be made available for review" (see page HR-103 in Appendix C in the above link).

I'm sure I'm just wasting my time here because clearly you've already made up your mind on this subject, but I had some to kill while waiting for the regional final to start. Best of luck next year.